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New Year's Day Will Bring $10 Minimum Wage, Other Perks For California Workers

LOS ANGELES ( — Several new laws go into effect on New Year's Day that will improve the lives of California's workers.

Effective January 1, 2016, California's minimum wage will go up a dollar to $10 an hour. Workers will also be able to use job-protected leave to address child-care or school emergencies as of New Year's Day.

The scheduled wage hike will bring California workers' minimum wage up more than two dollars over the $7.25 federal minimum wage. There are some exceptions to the new law, but the change is expected to affect more than 9 million workers who are at or below the federal minimum wage in California, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics most recent report.

And with an estimated 2.5 million working mothers with children under 18 in California, SB 579 will provide job-protected leave to address child-care or school emergencies and prohibit employers with 25 or more employees from discharging or discriminating against employees for taking up to eight hours a month to participate in school or day-care activities with their children.

Along with a new law that went into effect on July 1, allowing workers to accrue sick time, an enormous swath of part-time and hourly workers in California will have access to perks mostly enjoyed by white-collar, salaried professionals in 2016.

Another new law that goes into effect on New Year's Day won't affect as many California workers, but will still serve to improve the lives of a specialized segment of employees: AB 202 will require the cheerleaders and dance teams of professional sports organizations such as the Los Angeles Lakers to be classified as employees.

A lawsuit brought by the cheerleaders for the Oakland Raiders prompted the law after they reported sub-minimum wage pay and being forced to spend their own money and work unpaid overtime.

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