August 11, 2023

Gov. Newsom Revitalizes California’s Industrial Welfare Commission

California Governor Gavin Newsom’s recently signed budget bill (AB 102) provides a $3,000,000 allocation to the state’s previously non-operational Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC). The IWC – a quasi-legislative agency within the California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) – was established nearly 100 years ago to regulate wages, hours and working conditions in California. Defunded in 2004 by then Governor Davis, the IWC’s numerous Wage Orders continue to be enforced by the state’s Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE).

Additional budget monies allocated to revitalizing the IWC will also be used to reconvene industry-specific wage boards and to reinvigorate IWC mandates to adopt orders specific to wages, hours, and working conditions. Vested with legislative, executive and judicial powers, the IWC is charged with reviewing a broad range of industries spanning seventeen individual Wage Orders. Because new orders may not include any standards that are less protective than existing state law, employers should not expect a lessening of responsibilities under any new or amended IWC Wage Orders.

New IWC mandates include:

  • Prioritizing its efforts to consider industries in which more than 10% of workers are at or below the federal poverty level (e.g., agricultural and service workers).
  • Appointing new members and convening by January 1, 2024
  • Adopting any final recommendations for new wage orders covering wages, hours and working conditions by October 31, 2024.

Employers wishing to offer the benefit of their experience and perspective to the IWC as it considers new Wage Orders, or the modification of existing Orders, should monitor the IWC’s website for public comment opportunities such as upcoming public meetings or investigative hearings.