California Lawmaker Moves To Increase Holiday Pay
With the holidays in full swing, many Californians are dreading the holiday shopping crowd and the extra shifts that come with it. However, a new bill coming up for discussion in the California State Assembly could give holiday workers some new incentives.
California State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez announced in late November that she is introducing a new bill to provide double pay to Californians who have to work on Thanksgiving and Christmas.
This proposal seems to respond to the ever-expanding “Black Friday” shopping period. In recent years, the day-after-Thanksgiving shopping has spread further and further into the Thanksgiving holiday, requiring retail workers to miss out on Thanksgiving celebrations with their families and come in to work in order to keep their jobs. Certain retail stores even make these shifts mandatory, anticipating the large number of absences during this holiday period.
“I’ve watched how the retailers and restaurateurs continue to expand their hours and open up on these holidays that are traditionally family holidays,” Gonzalez said. “What people are being called in to do now is a real slap in the face of family values, frankly.”
Gonzalez was joined during her announcement by Diane McCain, an employee of a San Diego Walmart store and member of OUR Walmart, an organization for Walmart associates that seeks to improve the lives of Walmart employees nationwide. The group recently launched a Black Friday strike to advocate for higher wages.
“We take pride in serving our customers the best we can, including coming in on holidays like Thanksgiving,” McCain said. “I think it’s only right for us to be paid fairly when we have to sacrifice our holiday to work.”
In terms of the bill, Gonzalez has said she draws a line between employers that must be fully staffed all year long—such as hospitals and police departments—and those that are simply trying to draw in holiday crowds, like retail stores.
“This is not life and death. This is consumerism,” Gonzalez told The Sacramento Bee. “If it’s so important to force employees to work on a traditional family holiday, it’s only decent to compensate them fairly.”
Although many employers already offer time-and-a-half or overtime pay for holidays, California law does not mandate it. In other words, under state law, a California employer could legally force an employee to work on a holiday for standard pay. More than three-fifths of the country’s large employers have Thanksgiving or Christmas shifts, while only one-in-five small businesses do, according to data from Bloomberg BNA.
The bill would apply to both full-time and part-time workers and would focus on workers who are compelled to work on federal holidays, such as Thanksgiving and Christmas. Bills for the current legislative session could not be introduced until December 1, and it is currently unclear exactly what the bill will include. If passed, the measure would not affect holidays until 2015.