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Terminator Proposes Wage & Hour Law Changes to Reduce Terminations

In a press conference today, Governor Schwarzenegger called for a temporary 1½ cent statewide sales tax increase, along with new taxes on liquor and oil as part of a plan to increase revenues $4.4 billion to make up part of an $11 billion budget deficit. At the same time, Schwarzenegger proposed $4.5 billion in spending cuts.

To save money on wages to state workers, the governor proposes to require them to take a one-day unpaid furlough each month. Columbus Day and Lincoln's Birthday would no longer be paid state holidays, and premium pay for working a holiday would be dropped. State agencies would be given the option of establishing 10-hour, four-day work weeks, and employees would no longer be allowed to count leave time as hours worked while computing overtime pay.

Oddly enough, part of this plan requires "[k]eeping high paying jobs in California by providing overtime exemptions and allowing more flexible work schedules to increase productivity; and " [c]larifying meal and rest periods to save businesses hundreds of millions of dollars in litigation costs and create less confusion from meal break violations which will mean fewer terminations."

The governor proposes to:

Provide Overtime Exemptions: Exempt employees in executive, sales, administrative, and professional jobs who earn more than $100,000 annually from overtime pay.
· Keep high-paying jobs from leaving the state. (For every 10,000 jobs paying more than $100,000 placed out of state, California’s economy misses out on $1 billion in employee spending.)
· Save approximately $90 million per year in employee classification costs.

Allow More Flexible Work Schedules: Allow employees to work more flexible hours upon request, such as 10 hour work days for a 40 hour work without being paid overtime.
· Reduce absenteeism and boost productivity, which save employers real dollars.
· Raise employee retention rates, which will reduce claims on the Unemployment Insurance trust fund.

Clarify Meal And Rest Period Laws: Clarify existing law regarding meal and rest periods to provide employers and employees with a clear understanding of meal breaks and offering flexibility to both businesses and workers.
· Will save businesses hundreds of millions of dollars in litigation costs.
· Less confusion means fewer terminations over meal break violations and a more welcoming work environment.

Full details of the governor's plan have not been released.


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