Lawmakers in California on Thursday approved raising the state’s minimum wage to $25 an hour for many health care workers, as a bill was approved by the state Assembly and Senate.
The state Senate passed the bill by a 31-9 margin and the Assembly by a 63-13 vote. senate bill 525 It will now go to California Governor Gavin Newsom for his signature.
Under the bill, companies with at least 10,000 full-time employees would have to begin paying a $23 minimum wage in June 2024, followed by a $24 minimum wage in June 2025, increasing to $25 in June 2026.
The minimum wage will thereafter be set by inflation rates each year.
Small practices will be required to pay $21 an hour starting in June 2024, $22 an hour starting in June 2026, and $25 an hour starting in June 2027.
For hospitals funded mostly by government money or some rural health care facilities, the minimum wage will be set at $18 an hour with a 3.5% annual increase.
The bill would also require those who are not hourly employees to be paid at least 150% of the health care worker minimum wage.
The bill would prevent cities from imposing their own rules on pay for health care workers.
The California Hospital Association offered to support the bill after changes were made to exempt institutions serving smaller institutions and rural communities from the higher minimum wage level.
“At the core of California’s hospitals is providing high-quality health care for all, and this life-saving and life-changing care can only be provided with an entire health care workforce,” the organization said. “As amended, the California Hospital Association supports SB 525 because it strikes an important balance between protecting support workers and jobs and access to care in some of California’s most vulnerable communities.”
The current minimum wage in California is $15.50 an hour.
Health care workers aren’t the only ones fighting for a higher minimum wage. The legislature is set to consider Assembly Bill 1228, which could impose a $20 minimum wage for many fast food workers. If approved, the new law will take effect in April 2024.
Lawmakers previously approved a $22 minimum wage for fast food workers, but that law is being challenged by the restaurant industry.