San Diego Minimum Wage and Sick Leave (FAQ)

City of San Diego’s Earned Sick Leave and Minimum Wage Ordinance (FAQs)

Effective July 11, 2016 

Proposition I raised the minimum wage and established the ability to earn at least 40 hours of earned sick leave for all employees in the City of San Diego. Here’s what you need to know:

What is the new minimum wage and earned sick days law?

  • Effective January 1, 2017, the minimum wage increased to $11.50/hour.
  • From July 11, 2016 through December 31, 2016 the minimum wage was $10.50/hour.
  • The minimum wage will go up again on January 1, 2019 based on the cost of living index.
  • Workers in the City of San Diego can accumulate at least 5 days (40 hours) of paid sick leave per year.

 What is considered a violation of the law?

  • Paying less than the minimum wage ($11.50 as of 1/01/17);
  • Failure to notify employees of the law
  • Denial of the ability to earn at least 40 hours of paid sick leave;
  • Retaliation against an employee (i.e. firing, demotion, suspension, etc.)

 How do I know if I should be receiving the new minimum wage and sick days?

Any person who performs at least two hours of work within the geographic boundaries of the City of San Diego is covered under the new law.

What if I work in the City of San Diego but my employer’s main office is located outside of the City?

The minimum wage is based on where work is performed, not where an employer is headquartered. If you work in the City of San Diego then you should be paid at least $11.50 an hour.

How do I know if I’m working in the City of San Diego?

You can enter the specific address of the work location in the City of San Diego map.

Can my employer use my tips toward the minimum wage?

No, tips are the sole property of the employee(s). Your boss must pay the local minimum wage and cannot use tips as a credit to satisfy this amount. State law prohibits an employer from sharing or keeping any parts of the tip.

How and when do I start earning paid sick leave?  

An employee can earn 1 hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours that you work, regardless of whether you’re a full time, part-time, or temporary employee.

How and when do I start earning paid sick leave?  

An employee can earn 1 hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours that you work, regardless of whether you’re a full time, part-time, or temporary employee.


An employer must allow an employee to earn at least 40 hours of sick leave. The ability to earn more than 40 hours of sick leave can vary depending on the Employer’s policy or union contract.


When can I use paid sick leave?

An employee can use sick leave for a number of reasons:

  • Physical or mental illness, injury, or medical condition or to see a doctor or seek treatment; medical reasons can include pregnancy or physical examination.
  • Treatment or evaluation or care for family members such as children, spouse, parent, grand parents, siblings, or the child of a parent or spouse.
  • Safe Time by a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking to seek medical attention, counseling, relocation or support services, or time to recover.
  • Place of business is closed due to a Public Health Emergency.


Can my boss prevent me from taking paid sick leave?

The employee must provide your employer with “reasonable” notice that you are going to take leave. If you or a family member is unexpectedly sick, your employer must allow you to take sick leave as long as you notify the employer reasonably soon after you are aware that you will not be able to come to work. Also, if you provide reasonable notice, the law specifies that your employer cannot require you to find a replacement for your hours if you have to take sick leave.


Can my boss punish me for using my paid sick leave?

No. This is called “Retaliation.” The law says that if you accumulate paid sick leave and take it for a valid reason, your employer cannot punish you for doing so. The Employer cannot fire, discipline, demote you or reduce your hours or take any other negative action because you asserted your rights to sick leave or the correct minimum wage under the law.


Am I eligible even though I’m not a U.S. citizen?

California labor law protects workers, regardless of immigration status. It is against the law for your employer to threaten to report your immigration status because you asserted your rights. An undocumented worker is eligible for the local minimum wage and its sick leave benefits if they otherwise work as an employee under this law.


Is my employer complying with the notices and posting of this law?

  • Information on the adjusted minimum wage and employee’s other benefits for the year, and the date these go into effect must be emailed or posted in writing in English, and in the employee’s primary language of Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, or Tagalog, if the language is spoken by at least 5% percent of the employees at the workplace.
  • Every employer must also provide each employee with written notice of the employer’s legal name, any fictitious business name, address, telephone number, the employer’s requirements under the Ordinance, and information on how the employer satisfies these requirements, including the employer’s method of earned sick leave accrual.

Who can file a complaint?

Any person may file a complaint with the Enforcement Office alleging a violation of the law.  The complaint must include a statement of dates, places, and persons or entities responsible for the alleged violation.

Can I get my money back?

Employees may be entitled to damages and back wages if they are not paid the correct wage. 

How do I file a complaint if my Employer refuses to pay the minimum wage, does not inform me of my rights, refuses to let me use my sick time, or fires me for trying to use my rights?

Gather as much information as possible to support your claim:

  • Name, address, phone number of your employer
  • Records or your best recollection of the days and hours you worked (e.g. personal notes, calendars)
  • Copies of paycheck stubs, etc.
  • Make sure any complaint includes statement of dates, places, employer and/or business.

For More information visit: My Employer Stole From


The Employee Rights Center can help you file a complaint:

Employee Rights Center
4265 Fairmount Ave, Ste 200
(between Orange Ave & El Cajon Blvd)
San Diego, CA 92105
Ph: (619) 521-1372
Fax: 877-897-9433
Hours of Operation: M-F 9AM- 5PM

You can also file a complaint directly with the local minimum wage program at the City of San Diego Treasurer’s Office in person, by email, mail, or fax:

Email –
Phone – (619) 615-1565

Fax – (619)533-3320.



Disclaimer:  This information is provided for informational purposes only and should not be relied on as legal advice. Contact an attorney or legal assistance provider to understand your rights under the law as applied to your particular circumstance.