As California enters a new year, many workers are struggling to provide for their families. Under California employment laws, most workers must be paid at least $8 per hour at their jobs. Under federal laws, employers only need to pay workers $7.25 per hour. However, California assemblyman Luis Alejo is introducing legislation to try to increase minimum wage laws. Under this legislation, over the next three years, minimum wage would increase to $9.25 per hour. Following this increase, California’s minimum wage would be tied with inflation and could fluctuate — up or down — depending on the cost of living.

According to Alejo, these changes to California’s minimum wage laws would have many positive effects. For one, he claims that as minimum wage is increased, people will have more spending money. Alejo claims this money could help California’s economy as rates of consumer spending increase. Furthermore, Alejo and his supporters say that this legislation could help close the gap between the rich and the poor which has been widening in California.

10 other states have recently increased their minimum wage. Despite this trend, this proposed legislation is not guaranteed to pass. Alejo’s legislation failed to pass last term after getting stuck in committee.

Whether or not minimum wage increases in California, employees are entitled at least the current minimum wage. Sometimes, employers may try to force employees to work for less which violates that employee’s rights. Common violations can include forcing employees to work over lunch or during other breaks or asking employees to work without recording the time. When an employee’s rights are violated, the employer can be held accountable. Employees may be entitled to compensation for the employers’ violation.

Source: Santa Cruz Sentinel, “Minimum wage hike gets push from Assemblyman Luis Alejo,” Jason Hoppin, Jan. 03, 2012