California’s newest law aimed at raising the minimum wage to $20 per hour for fast-food workers statewide won’t benefit everyone.
Workers at restaurants like Panera Bread won’t receive the wage increase because the new law doesn’t recognize places that operate “a bakery that produces for sale on the establishment’s premises bread,” as fast-food.
“This exemption applies only where the establishment produces for sale bread as a stand-alone menu item and does not apply if the bread is available for sale solely as part of another menu item,” the law’s text said.
Why the line was drawn at bread remains unclear.
“That’s part of the sausage-making,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said during a news conference when asked about the exemption, Insider reported.
For those who aren’t exempt, the law will benefit about 500,000 fast-food workers beginning in April.
When it goes into effect, California’s fast-food workers will have the highest guaranteed base salary in the industry. The state’s minimum wage for all other workers — $15.50 per hour — is already among the highest in the United States, the Associated Press reported.
In 2022, the minimum wage for fast-food workers in California was $16.21, or just over $34,000 per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
That income is just below the California Poverty Measure for a family of four, according to the Public Policy Institute of California and the Stanford Center on Poverty and Equality.