Welcome 2023: Three new pieces of California legislation that impact Riverside’s youth.

Countless pieces of legislation were signed into law by Governor Newsom in 2022. Here is an overview of three critical bills affecting Riverside’s youth that are now in-effect as of January 1st, 2023:

SB 1162

Data from the State of California’s Employment Development Department shows that the labor participation rate for those under 19 is currently 29.7% and has been steadily increasing since the decline of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 SB 1162 is a triumph for those youth currently employed and those who are planning to seek employment in the near future. It requires businesses with more than 15 employees to attach the pay ranges of a position to all job postings. Larger companies, defined as those with over 100 employees, are also now required to provide more detailed wage histories to California’s Civil Rights Department than before.

Following in the steps of Colorado, Washington, and even New York City, this bill is an attempt to mitigate gender and racial pay gaps. In addition to the transparency measures outlined above, companies are required by a provision within the legislation to clearly establish salary bands for current employees. These bands identify the highest and lowest an employer is willing to pay for a position. Making this information clear to all will hopefully minimize wage discrimination based on race, sex, and other factors.

However, this bill has not gone without criticism. After New York City passed their own version of SB 1162, postings were spotted featuring ranges where the maximum was $100,000 more than the minimum, exemplifying how this law can be circumvented by businesses.

If this also occurs in California, the legislation’s current definition of a required payscale, reading “the salary or hourly wage range that the employer reasonably expects to pay for the position,” may have to be updated to impose limits on the broadness and accuracy of the ranges posted.

AB 257

Recent studies from Black Box Intelligence show that teens make up nearly a quarter of the workers in the national limited-service restaurant industry, also known as fast food. AB 257 creates a ten-person special council that has the responsibility of creating and updating employment laws that apply to workers at fast food chains, primarily focusing on minimum wage standards, working hours, and sanitary conditions.

When asked about AB 257, Erin Mellon, a spokesperson for Governor Newson said ‘“The … act gives fast-food workers a seat at the table to set fair wages and important health and safety standards.”

 One notable part of the bill is that the council has the authority to raise the minimum wage for California fast food workers to $22. This equates to a nearly 41 percent boost in pay.

Unfortunately, the longevity of this bill remains uncertain due to opposition from major restaurant and business trade groups who argue that this legislation unfairly singles out the fast food industry. They claim the laws passed by the council will result in higher labor costs and skyrocketing food prices for consumers. In an attempt to take action, the organization Save Local Restaurants recently submitted over a million unverified signatures qualifying a referendum that would halt enforcement of the law and leave its fate up to California voters in 2024.

AB 1909

        Although the number of youth in the United States who regularly ride bicycles has been in decline since the turn of the 21st century, studies published by the Statistica Research Department show that around 17 percent of those under 18 still cycle on a regular basis. AB 1909 attempts to ensure the safety of those cyclists by requiring drivers to change lanes when passing a bicycle. This law is significantly easier for police to enforce than previous rules that only asked drivers to give bikes a three-foot margin. However, as Section 6D recognizes, it is not always practical for drivers to change lanes due to traffic or roadway conditions, so enforcement will still be tricky in certain situations.

AB 1909 also halts the enforcement of bicycle license laws which eliminates another form of discriminatory profiling as several jurisdictions have concluded that they are often used as an excuse to harass youth and BIPOC bike riders.

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