Following in the footsteps of its neighbors in Mountain View and Sunnyvale, Palo Alto is preparing to adopt a new law raising the local minimum wage to $10.30 per hour.
The City Council's Policy and Services Committee is scheduled to consider an ordinance on April 28 that would institute a base minimum wage of $10.30, with an annual adjustment based on the Consumer Price Index, as established by the U.S. Department of Labor. If approved by the committee, the proposed ordinance would go to the full council for adoption.
The proposed ordinance stemmed from a February memo from Councilmen Marc Berman, Pat Burt, Tom DuBois and Cory Wolbach. The memo cited the high cost of living in Palo Alto and recent efforts in Mountain View, Sunnyvale and San Jose to update their respective wage requirements.
"Our lowest wage workers perform valued services in Palo Alto and often have to work multiple jobs with long commutes to barely make ends meet," the memo stated. "A local minimum wage increase would be a modest step in supporting these workers who are vital to maintaining the services we value and that are essential to our local economy."
The law that the committee will consider closely mirrors the ordinances that Mountain View and Sunnyvale adopted last year and the one that San Jose approved in 2012. All three set minimum wage at $10.30, with increases based on the Consumer Price Index (San Jose's was initially raised to $10, and is now at $10.30).
Under the proposal, Palo Alto would contract out enforcement to San Jose's Office of Equality Assurance. According to a report from the office of City Attorney Molly Stump, Palo Alto officials have reached out to San Jose, which expressed willingness to handle "early enforcement functions such as initial complaint intake and investigation and informal resolution complaints."
The ordinance would take effect 31 days after the council adopts it on a second reading. It would require employers to post notices at their workplaces of current and prospective minimum wage raises and employees' rights under the local law. It would also require employers to maintain payroll records for four years and provide his/her name, address and telephone number in writing to each employee at the time of hire, according to a report from Stump's office.
The new ordinance would also empower employees to pursue a civil action to recover back wages and authorize the city to levy finds, hold administrative hearings and seek injunctive relief against employers that don't comply.
Despite its famously high cost of living, Palo Alto currently doesn't have a local minimum-wage ordinance. Workers are currently bound by the state minimum wage of $9 per hour, which is set to increase to $10 on Jan. 1, 2016.