AB 1003 – Wage Theft (Effective Jan. 1, 2022)

In 2021, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed several laws impacting California employers. The new laws — some of which recently became effective and others were signed into law just weeks ago and take effect January 1, 2022 — address several topics, including employees of warehouse distribution centers, settlement and nondisparagement agreements, and workplace safety.

As a reminder, the minimum wage in California is increasing to $15.00 per hour on January 1, 2022, for employers with 26 or more employees based on previous legislation signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2015. The minimum wage for employers with 25 or fewer employees will increase to $14.00 per hour on January 1, 2022. Also, various cities and local governments in California have enacted minimum wage ordinances exceeding the state minimum wage.

AB 1003 makes the intentional theft of wages by an employer punishable as grand theft if the wages equal more than $950 for one employee or $2,350 for two or more employees in any consecutive 12-month timeframe. Wages subject to this section also include gratuities, benefits and other compensation. The law applies to both employees and independent contractors.

This bill adds Section 487m to the Penal Code.

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