City of San Diego Enacts Minimum Wage and Sick Leave Increases Effective July 11

On July 11, 2016, the San Diego City Council approved the June 7, 2016, election results to reinstate previously approved paid sick leave and minimum wage increases (the “Ordinance”).  Accordingly, effective July 11, 2016, the San Diego minimum wage increased to $10.50 per hour.

The San Diego minimum wage is set to increase again on January 1, 2017 to $11.50 per hour. In January 1, 2019 and each following year, the minimum wage in San Diego will increase according to the Consumer Price Index.

San Diego’s sick leave law also took effect July 11, 2016. San Diego maintains a website on the Ordinance, which it has been updating frequently since the law was approved.

Below is a summary of key points of the Ordinance.


  • An employee is defined as any individual who performs at least two hours of work within the geographic boundaries of the City of San Diego for an employer, in one or more calendar weeks of the year.  San Diego provides a map of its boundaries to check for coverage.
  • The employee shall accrue sick leave at an increment of one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked within the geographic boundaries of the City of San Diego.
  • The Ordinance allows employers to limit use to forty hours per benefit year. The Ordinance defines benefit year as a “regular and consecutive twelve-month period, as determined by an employer.”
  • The Ordinance does not address whether an employer may front load sick leave. The Ordinance is also silent on whether employers may cap the accrual of sick leave. However, San Diego announced that it is considering an Implementing Ordinance  on July 26, which would allow a cap, allow frontloading, and make other clarifications to the San Diego law to be more consistent with State law.
  • The Ordinance requires that unused sick leave be carried over to the following year.
  • The Ordinance expands use of sick leave beyond State law.  Employees may use San Diego sick leave for reasons under State law plus: where the employee’s place of business is closed by public official due to a public health emergency; and where the employee is providing care to a child whose school or child care facility is closed due to public health emergency.
  • Unlike State law, the Ordinance does not provide an exception for employees covered by collective bargaining agreements.
  • The Ordinance provides an exemption for certain existing paid leave plans.  If an employer provides an employee with an amount of paid leave including “paid time off, paid vacation, or paid personal days” which meets the requirements of the Ordinance and which allows such paid leave to be used for the same purposes under the Ordinance, then “it is not required to provide additional Earned Sick Leave to such employee.”
  • Employers must post in a conspicuous place at any workplace or job site where any employee works the notice published each year by the City informing employees of the current minimum wage and of their rights to the minimum wage and earned sick leave.  San Diego published sample posters, which are linked above.
  • Employers must also provide employees, at the time of hire, written notice of employer’s name, address, and telephone number and the employer’s requirements under the Ordinance.  San Diego published a sample notice, which is linked above.

(San Diego Municipal Code, Art. 9, Division 1, §§ 39.0101 through 39.0115.)

State paid sick leave law does not preempt or supersede the Ordinance.  Therefore, employers must comply with both State law and the Ordinance.  Where those laws differ, employers must comply with the one which is more favorable to the employee.

Employers with San Diego employees, or who may send employees to work in San Diego must adjust their policies according to the new Ordinance.  If you have any questions regarding implementation of such policies, please contact the author or your usual employment counsel.

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