California raises minimum wage to $25 an hour for healthcare workers

Kelly Gooch

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed a bill that mandates a $25 hourly minimum wage requirement for workers in hospitals and other medical settings.

The bill, signed Oct. 13, comes after union and hospital representatives reached agreement on how such a requirement could be addressed.

“Gov. Newsom’s signature on landmark legislation to improve wages for California’s healthcare workers will create meaningful change for families struggling to keep pace while at the same time protecting access to care in vulnerable communities,” Carmela Coyle, president, and CEO of the California Hospital Association, said in a statement shared with Becker’s. “This bill strikes the right balance between significantly improving wages while protecting jobs and safeguarding care at community hospitals throughout the state.”

Under the new law, cities and counties are blocked from increasing pay via ballot measures for 10 years.

Workers at healthcare facilities with 10,000 or more full-time equivalent employees will earn $23 per hour starting in 2024, with pay increasing to $24 an hour in 2025 and $25 an hour in 2026. That affects workers including launderers and hospital gift shop workers, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Workers at hospitals with a high governmental payer mix; independent hospitals with an elevated governmental payer mix; rural independent covered healthcare facilities; or covered healthcare facilities owned, affiliated, or operated by a county with a population of less than 250,000 as of Jan. 1, 2023, will earn $18 per hour starting next year, with pay increasing to $25 an hour in 2033.

Urgent care clinics, skilled nursing facilities and other smaller facilities will be required to pay workers $21 per hour in 2024, with pay increasing to $25 per hour in 2028, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The new law allows some healthcare facilities to apply for a temporary pause or alternative phase-in schedule of the minimum wage requirements if they have documentation proving financial distress.

“California is putting a stop to the hemorrhaging of our care workforce by ensuring healthcare workers can do the work they love and pay their bills — a huge win for workers and patients seeking care,” Tia Orr, executive director of SEIU California, said in a statement. “Californians saw the courage and commitment of healthcare workers during the pandemic, and now that same fearlessness and commitment to patients is responsible for a historic investment in the workers who make our healthcare system strong and accessible to all.”