IR # 96-38
Friday, September 27, 1996

Rick Rice
Troy Swauger
(415) 972-8835

Hotline With New Minimum Wage Information Established

SAN FRANCISCO-- To forestall any confusion about the increase of California's minimum wage on October 1, 1996, a toll-free hotline has opened to provide detailed information to both employers and employees, announced Department of Industrial Relations Director Lloyd W. Aubry, Jr.

The number is 1-888-ASK-WAGE (1-888-275-9243) and will be available to callers in English, Spanish and Chinese versions. Anyone who dials the number will hear a recorded message that summarizes the changes in the minimum wage and related issues, Aubry said.

"We want as much accurate information as possible to be available to all California wage earners and employers," Aubry said. "This is an opportunity to help provide the necessary facts to everyone who earns the minimum wage or to those who pay that wage. All anyone needs is to have access to a telephone line to gain this news."

California's minimum wage will jump to $4.75 per hour on October 1. The increase comes as a result of the newly enacted federal increase in the minimum wage, the first of a two-step process. The second step will bring the minimum wage to $5.15 an hour on September 1, 1997.

The California Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC) formally adopted the change in the minimum wage on August 23 and it will become effective simultaneously with the federal increase on October 1.

To complicate matters, California voters will decide on November 5 if they want to raise the minimum wage again. If the measure passes, California businesses that pay employees minimum wage will see the hourly rate increase to $5 on March 1, 1997, and to $5.75 one year later, on March 1, 1998. The potential of a four-step increase in the minimum wage over two years could amplify the mounting confusion surrounding the first increase. The hotline will be updated by the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement to reflect new information if the ballot measure passes.

The hotline also provides information on applicability of the state's opportunity wage, meal and lodging credits, and how the new minimum wage affects tipped employees.