(Updated December 20, 2023)
The City of San Diego's Earned Sick Leave and Minimum Wage Ordinance, San Diego Municipal Code (SDMC) Chapter 3, Article 9, Division 1 became effective on July 11, 2016. It is applicable to employees who perform at least two (2) hours of work in one or more calendar weeks of the year within the geographic boundaries of San Diego.
To assist in determining if a work location is within the geographic boundaries of the City of San Diego, employers and/or employees can find the community by City Council District or can enter the specific address of the work location in the interactive geographic boundaries map.
If a work location is not within the geographic boundaries of the City of San Diego, but within the County of San Diego, the California state minimum wage and earned sick leave laws apply. Information can be found at the state of California Labor Commissioner's webpage.
All* employers must pay each employee, for each hour worked within the geographic boundaries of the City, wages not less than the minimum wage rate as shown on the following schedule:
|Minimum Wage Rate
|July 11, 2016
|January 1, 2017
|January 1, 2019
|January 1, 2020
|January 1, 2021
|January 1, 2022
|January 1, 2023
|January 1, 2024
*Regardless of the number of employees
Employers must provide each employee earned sick leave. Employees must accrue no less than one (1) hour of earned sick leave for every thirty (30) hours worked within the geographic boundaries of the City; employers may cap the total accrual of sick leave at eighty (80) hours. Any unused accrued earned sick leave must be carried forward to the following benefit year.
Employers may satisfy the accrual and carry over requirements if no less than forty (40) hours of earned sick leave are awarded to an employee at the beginning of each benefit year. Employers may limit an employee's use of earned sick leave to forty (40) hours in a benefit year. Employees may use earned sick leave for all the reasons described in Section 39.0106(a), which includes, but is not limited to, time for their own medical care or for the medical care of a family member.
If an employer provides, through a contract, collective bargaining agreement, employment benefit plan or other agreement, greater paid time off than the employee would have otherwise received under the provisions of the Ordinance, that employer may utilize an alternative methodology for calculation, payment and use of earned sick leave or paid time off.
Safe Time means necessary time away from work due to domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. An employee is entitled to use earned sick leave hours for Safe Time for themselves or a family member, which includes their child, spouse, domestic partner, parent, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, or the child or parent of their spouse or domestic partner. Retaliation is prohibited and employers must allow employees to use Safe Time to obtain any of the following services:
- Medical attention needed to recover from physical or psychological injury or disability caused by domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking
- Assistance from a victim services organization
- Psychological other counseling
- Relocation due to domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking, including moving to or from a domestic abuse shelter
- Legal services, including preparing for or participating in any civil or criminal legal proceeding related to or resulting from the domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking
Safe Time Resources
Employers must post in a conspicuous place at any workplace or job site where any employee works, the notices published each year by the City. Additionally, every employer must also provide each employee, at the time of hire or by Oct. 1, 2016, whichever is later, written notice of the employer's legal name, any fictitious business name, address, telephone number, the employer's requirements under the Ordinance, information on how the employer satisfies these requirements including the employer's method of earned sick leave accrual. This notice may be provided through an accessible electronic communication in lieu of a paper notice. To satisfy this requirement, employers may use the City prepared Employer to Employee Notice Template.
|Minimum Wage Notice
|Employer to Employee
Employers are prohibited from engaging in retaliation against an employee for exercising any right provided by the Earned Sick Leave and Minimum Wage Ordinance. This includes but is not limited to the reporting of a violation to the employer or a government agency, the right to request minimum wage, or request and use earned sick leave. Retaliation includes any threat, discipline, discharge, demotion, suspension, reduction in employee hours or any other adverse employment action against an employee for exercising their rights under the Ordinance.
Investigations may be initiated based off complaints, including formal complaints, tips or anonymous information received and from the Program’s Directed Investigation annual workplan.
If an employee believes their rights under the Earned Sick Leave and Minimum Wage Ordinance have been violated, a complaint can be filed with the City of San Diego Minimum Wage Program by completing a Complaint Declaration Form or by clicking here. The form is available below in various languages. Employees can also contact the Minimum Wage Program to obtain a hard copy of the Complaint Declaration Form.
|Complaint Declaration Form
If additional information is needed, the employee/complainant will be contacted prior to any investigation. Anonymous complaints, tips or other information regarding potential violations of the Ordinance can also be submitted.
In accordance with the Earned Sick Leave and Minimum Wage Ordinance section 39.0113(a), the Enforcement Office has promulgated and issued the following regulation(s):
Note: Employees have the right to bring a cause of action against their employer in court or file a claim with the California Labor Commissioner’s Office for violations of the City of San Diego Ordinance minimum wage and retaliation requirements. Other California Labor law violations, including overtime and meal/rest breaks, can also be filed with the California Labor Commissioner’s Office. Information regarding these processes and how to file claims can be found at the state of California Department of Industrial Relations webpage.
Directed investigations are intended to assist vulnerable, low income employees working in industries where data shows violations are likely to occur, and the workforce is unlikely to file complaints. Even though a complaint was not received, businesses selected for a directed investigation are still required to abide by the Ordinance pertaining to their requirements during the enforcement process.
For more information regarding the investigations process, employers can review the Guide to the Investigation Process or contact the Investigator assigned.
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- City of San Diego geographical boundaries
- Fact Sheet, English
- Fact Sheet, Spanish
- Fact Sheet, Chinese
- Fact Sheet, Vietnamese
- Fact Sheet, Tagalog
- 7 Key Steps to Successful Compliance, English
- 7 Key Steps to Successful Compliance, Spanish
- 7 Key Steps to Successful Compliance, Chinese
- 7 Key Steps to Successful Compliance, Vietnamese
- 7 Key Steps to Successful Compliance, Tagalog
- Important Notice Regarding Senate Bill 616