According to the ordinance — which became law in 2006 — firms providing contractual services to San Diego must pay their employees wages and health benefits outlined by a schedule determined by the city.
The minimum for this fiscal year is $11.65 in direct hourly pay and $2.34 per hour in health benefits. The combined pay is almost $2 an hour more than when the ordinance was adopted.
Some City Council members questioned the law’s effectiveness. A city report says about half the compliance reviews have turned up discrepancies involving underpayment of wages, failure to allocate the proper amount of paid leave, poor record-keeping and lack of notifying employees of their rights.
If approved, the changes to the law would:
— require that companies use their own employees for at least 50 percent of the work outlined in the contract with the city;
— lengthen the statute of limitations from one to three years for an employee to file a lawsuit against an employer;
— allow the city to refer violations of the ordinance to appropriate local, state and/or federal agencies and authorities;
— require the city to take enforcement action if a determination is made that an employer has violated the ordinance two or more times within a two- year period;
— clarify requirements for an employer to inform employees on their rights; and
— add definitions for a variety of items.
The city’s Independent Budget Analyst said the proposals, if passed, would give San Diego one of the strongest living wage laws in the state. The IBA made the comment in a report that compared living wage enforcement policies at 10 large cities and counties around California.
Two city employees currently oversee living wage enforcement. The city would need to double the staff, at an annual cost of $230,000, to verify compliance and handle complex investigations.
According to a city report, 49 complaints of living wage violations have been investigated by the city since the ordinance was adopted, with 57 percent proving valid.