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Compliance Department

Living Wage

The Living Wage Ordinance (LWO), San Diego Municipal Code (SDMC) Chapter 2, Article 2, Division 42, was adopted by the City of San Diego in 2005 and requires covered employers to provide specific wage rates and benefits to workers who perform services on applicable service contracts, financial assistance agreements, or facility agreements with the goal of keeping workers and their families out of poverty.  The Office of Labor Standards and Enforcement (OLSE) Living Wage Program is responsible for the monitoring and enforcement of LWO requirements on applicable contracts and agreements. OLSE staff assist contractors in understanding their obligations under the Ordinance, conduct compliance reviews, investigate complaints, and conduct outreach with workers and the contracting community.

When Does the Living Wage Ordinance Apply?

The LWO applies to:

  1. Any service contract, including all cost-neutral or revenue-generating service contracts and any applicable subcontract, that is awarded by the City.
  2. Any financial assistance agreement between the City and a business to provide direct financial assistance with the expressly articulate and identified purpose of encouraging, facilitating, supporting, or enabling:
    1. Economic development, job creation, or job retention with a combine value of a period of five years of $500,000 or more; or
    2. Tourism, arts, and cultural programs with a combined annual value of $750,000 or more.
  3. Any City facility agreement, including any applicable sublease, subcontract, or concession agreement.

Covered Services

The LWO applies to the following types of employment activities, and any other non-managerial, non-supervisory, or non-professional services that are consistent with the intent of the LWO and designated in a City facility agreement, financial assistance agreement, or service contract:

  • Automotive repair and maintenance
  • Cashiers
  • Childcare
  • Concessions and retail sales
  • Facility and building maintenance
  • On-site food service and preparation
  • Janitorial, custodial, street cleaning and housekeeping
  • Landscaping
  • Laundry services
  • Office and clerical
  • Parking services
  • Pest control
  • Security services
  • Ushers and wheelchair attendants
  • Ticket takers
  • Warehouse workers
  • Waste collection and waste disposal, including recycling
  • Right-of-way maintenance
  • Water and wastewater maintenance and
  • Service workers in the medical field, including emergency medical technicians and paramedics

Application for Exemption

Exemption requests are approved by the Living Wage Program and pertain only to a single contract. A contractor may submit an LWO Application for Exemption for any of the following reasons:

  • Firm employs 12 or fewer employees, including parent and subsidiaries.
  • Sole proprietorship with no employees and will not utilize subcontractors.
  • 501(c)(3) non-profit and highest salary is less than 8 times the hourly rate of lowest salary.
  • Collective Bargaining Agreement that specifically states in writing that it supersedes the LWO.

City Facility Agreements

City facility agreements are defined as an agreement between the City and a business for the lease, use, or management of a City facility and includes: (a) subleases or other agreements for use of the City facility for thirty days or more in any calendar year and (b) subcontracts and concession agreements for services at the City facility with a combined value of payments in excess of $25,000 for any single subcontractor or concessionaire, and with a term of more than ninety days. SDMC §22.4205

City facilities subject to the LWO include:

  1. Petco Park
  2. Pechanga Arena San Diego
  3. San Diego Convention Center
  4. San Diego City Concourse
  5. Civic Theatre

Employer Requirements

Wages and Health Benefits: Pay covered employees no less than the Current Living Wages (adjusted annually on July 1) including hourly health benefit amount or, if lesser amount is applied toward health plan, add difference to hourly wage rate as cash payment. See Health Premium Hourly Cost Calculation for more information.

Paid Time Off: Provide minimum of 80 hours per year of compensated leave for vacation, illness, or personal need at employee's request and, when accrued compensated leave has exhausted , provide 80 hours of additional uncompensated leave for personal or immediate family illness. See Proportional Compensated Leave Calculation for more information.

Notify Employees: Post in visible location at work site(s) and annually distribute to covered employees with the first paycheck to occur after July 1:

Certify Compliance: Submit LWO Certification of Compliance at award and ensure applicable subcontractors file LWO Certification within 30 days.

Annual Report: Upon request provide annual report to City regarding LWO compliance. LWO Contractor Compliance Report 

City Access to Records: Permit access to LWO work sites and records for authorized City representatives and maintain LWO wage and benefit records for three to seven years after final payment.

Prohibit Retaliation against any employee who alleges non-compliance with LWO.

Payroll Reporting Requirements: Contractor and its subcontractors may be required to submit certified payroll records online via the City's web-based compliance program, PRISM.

Companion Ordinance: Service Worker Retention Ordinance

The Service Worker Retention Ordinance, SDMC Chapter 2, Article 2, Division 28, was enacted to support the purpose of the LWO and intended to minimize disruption in services when contractors are changed and give incumbent employees a reasonable opportunity to obtain possible employment with a new contractor. Further details are provided in Rules for Worker Retention for Services over $25,000.

  • Applies on City service contracts greater than $25,000 with a term of more than 90 days; does not include professional service contracts, construction, or purchase/lease of goods.
  • Terminated contractor provides employee information to new contractor and new contractor retains these employees for a 90-day transition period.
  • Violations may result in termination of contract.
  • Employee alleging violation of Service Worker Retention Ordinance may bring a private cause of action in state court against contractor.

Report a Violation/File a Complaint

If you would like to file a complaint alleging violations of the Living Wage Ordinance, please complete a complaint form online or submit the complaint form below to or 202 C Street, MS 8A, San Diego, CA 92101. Contact our office if you require assistance in completing the complaint form.

Certified Payroll & Contractor Trainings

The Living Wage Program regularly provides webinars on the LWO for contractors and firms subject to the LWO. These informational sessions provide an overview of Ordinance requirements, certified payroll reporting, and PRISM account management. The following trainings have been scheduled for calendar year 2024:

  1. Wednesday January 10, 2024, 9:30 – 11:00 am
  2. Wednesday April 10, 2024, 9:30 – 11:00 am
  3. Wednesday July 10, 2024, 9:30 – 11:00 am
  4. Wednesday October 10, 2024, 9:30 – 11:00 am

To register for an upcoming training, contact the Living Wage Program with the subject “Living Wage Training.”

Certified Payroll Reporting Link: Prism Compliance Management

Contact Us

If you have any questions about your rights or responsibilities under the Living Wage Ordinance, contact the Office of Labor Standards & Enforcement Living Wage Program:

202 C Street, MS 8A
San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: 619-236-6084
Fax: 619-236-5904