Emeryville Pauses Minimum Wage Increases for Small, Independent Restaurants

Jun 6 2019 - Local Ordinances - Bianca Saad

Emeryville is pressing “pause” for small, independent restaurants on their local minimum wage increase in July.

The Emeryville City Council voted to push the “pause” button for a very specific group of employers that would otherwise be subject to the upcoming minimum wage increase next month.

On July 1, 2019, Emeryville is one of several California cities that will have their local minimum wage rate increase. Currently, Emeryville has separate rates of pay for large and small businesses based on the number of employees. According to Emeryville’s Minimum Wage Ordinance, a large business has 56 or more employees working in the city, and a small business has 55 or fewer employees working in the city. On July 1, 2019, the local minimum wage would only be a single rate of $16.30 per hour, which is a significant increase for those small businesses that have been paying $15 per hour since July 1, 2018.

However, a very specific group of small businesses can now breathe a sigh of relief, because the Emeryville City Council voted to halt, for now, future minimum wage increases for small, independent restaurants. The City of Emeryville defines a “small independent restaurant” as an employer that is a small business meeting the definition of a restaurant pursuant to the City’s Municipal Code and has 20 or fewer locations globally. A small independent restaurant does not include any franchisee associated with a franchisor or a network of franchises with franchisees, that has more than 20 locations globally. In addition to enjoying a brief pause on minimum wage increases, these small independent restaurants will also be subject to smaller increases than other businesses.

Emeryville’s small, independent restaurants will pay the rate of $15 per hour until the rate increases again on July 1, 2020, at which time the rate will increase to 93 percent of the minimum wage rate paid by “employers which are not small businesses.” After that, the small, independent restaurant minimum wage rate will increase by one percent of the minimum wage paid by employers that are not small businesses per year (e.g. in 2021, 94 percent of the minimum wage rate paid by those such employers), until it is equal to the minimum wage paid by employers that are not small businesses, beginning on July 1, 2027.

Bianca Saad, Employment Law Subject Matter Expert

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