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Industry Insights

Grinberg: Garment Workers to Get Minimum Wage; Check Your TD Rates

  • State: California

What does the number 62 mean to you?

Gregory Grinberg

Gregory Grinberg

Is it an age? A road? Perhaps it is the number of times you swore to yourself you’d find another industry to work in but found yourself stuck in workers’ comp after all.

Well, at the moment, it might be the number assigned to a state Senate bill requiring garment manufacturing employees to be paid, at a minimum, by the hour instead of by the item of clothing produced.

Senate Bill 62, signed into law on Sept. 27, requires garment manufacturing employers to keep records of all employees, hours worked and terms agreed to with all employees. This also imposes upon the employer liability for minimum wage and attorney fees to be paid to employees.

So, why do I bring this to your attention?

Well, if you have a pending workers’ compensation claim from a garment worker who had an average weekly wage calculated by the number of garments produced in the prior year, that figure might be lower than an average weekly wage calculation based on hours worked. Temporary disability and possibly even permanent disability rates might have to be adjusted accordingly.

Further, with this additional exposure, the experience modification and insurance premium rates might warrant adjusting as well.  

Certainly, this will be reported as a great victory for workers’ rights. In fact, the results, though obvious and anticipated, might not be of benefit to California’s employees. Back in the day when garments were shipped by horse, perhaps local manufacturing was necessary. 

Now that shipping costs aren’t as prohibitive, perhaps California’s garment industry will follow the trend of every other manufacturer: moving out of state (or out of the country) for less expensive production costs.

Time will tell, as it always does. But, while we are awaiting the results of more of California’s interference in the business world, let’s turn an eye toward updating those cases that will have benefit rates affected by the new law.

Gregory Grinberg is managing partner of Gale, Sutow & Associates’ S.F. Bay South office and a certified specialist in workers’ compensation law. This post is reprinted with permission from Grinberg’s WCDefenseCA blog.

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