Recently, California adopted two significant changes to its wage and hour laws. First, it adopted a $15 per hour minimum wage, to be phased in over several years. This past week, Governor Brown signed a bill giving farm workers overtime compensation after 8 hours per day instead of 10 hours as is currently the law. This law will also be phased in over several years.
I spent the morning with a farmer who indicated how his company will react to the changes, and how his employees will be affected. Consider this: A farmworker earning $10 per hour, and able to work 60 hours, earns $31,200 today. When the minimum wage reaches $15, this worker will earn $46,800 ($15 x 3,120 hours). That's a substantial raise! However, as the 40-hour workweek is phased in, this farmer will do two things. First, he will mechanize more to use less labor. Second, he will limit employees to working 8 hour days. So the employee will earn $31,200 ($15 x 2,080 hours).
But wait, isn't that what the employee is earning now? The irony of it all.