California has been working its way up to a $15.00 minimum wage for all employees for several years.  As of January 1, 2023, all California employers will be required to pay their employees a minimum wage of $15.00.  However, a ballot measure recently filed with the State proposes increasing the minimum wage even further to $18.00 by 2026.

California has a unique process by which California citizens can propose laws and constitutional amendments without the support of the Governor or the Legislature.  Most recently, this process was used to allow app-based rideshare and delivery companies to hire drivers as independent contractors through the passage of Proposition 22.  This process is now being used to propose the “Living Wage Act of 2022,” which if passed would gradually increase the State’s minimum wage to $18.00 in 2026.

The Living Wage Act of 2022 proposes to continue the State’s stair-step increase of the minimum wage as follows:


Employers with 25 or fewer employees


Employers with 26 or more employees
2023 $15.00 per hour $16.00 per hour
2024 $16.00 per hour $17.00 per hour
2025 $17.00 per hour $18.00 per hour
2026 $18.00 per hour

Pursuant to the proposed initiative, after reaching $18.00 in 2026, the minimum wage would then be adjusted upwards annually to keep pace with the cost of living.

However, the Living Wage Act of 2022 has not yet cleared all hurdles it needs to make it onto the ballot in November 2022.  To qualify to be on the ballot, supporters of the initiative must collect the signatures of registered voters and complete a verification process.  Public comments on the initiative may also be submitted on the Office of the Attorney General’s website and will be reviewed.

Jackson Lewis continues to track legislation, regulations, and ballot measures affecting employers. If you have questions about minimum wage compliance or related issues, contact a Jackson Lewis attorney to discuss.