SERVING UP FLAVOR: Curious Palate is among a growing list of eateries that work with food ordering service Chewse. (Daniel Archuleta daniela@www.smdp.com)

Revisions to Santa Monica’s minimum wage law were met with maximum approval this week thanks to backing from a coalition of local residents, labor unions and business leaders.

City Council formally adopted a $15 hourly minimum wage schedule in January, but several details were deliberately left vague with an expectation that a specially appointed working group would fill in the gaps.

According to city staff, the new rules will be phased in over four years. Starting on July 1 of this year, the minimum wage will start at $10.50 per hour and increase to $15 per hour in 2020. Some nonprofits and businesses with fewer than 25 employees can receive a one-year delay, and there is an 18-month exemption for transitional employees.

The City has a separate hotel minimum wage set at $13.25 per hour in 2016 that will match the Los Angeles hotel minimum wage in 2017 at $15.37 per hour plus a consumer price index increase.

Santa Monica’s rules exempt union-negotiated contracts when the union has chosen to forgo the minimum wage during its bargaining process. The local ordinance includes provisions for paid sick leave, service charges, first-time workers and enforcement, many of which were subject to the working group’s recommendations.

In approving the recommendations Tuesday night, the council took time to praise the work of the working group and several councilmembers credited City Manager Rick Cole for creating the group.

“I think we should take all the people that disagree on issues and put them in a room and have Rick give them a mandate. It apparently works out really well,” Councilman Kevin McKeown said.

McKeown said the completed rules will be a model for others.

“This is a proud night for Santa Monica, it’s proud for our values, it’s proud for our process,” he said. “With the adoption tonight we will flesh out a minimum wage ordinance that is the best and most complete minimum wage ordinance in the country.”

Councilwoman Gleam Davis said the final resolution is an example of compromise.

“It is truly a Santa Monica-type evening,” she said. “I don’t think a lot of jurisdictions in the state, much less the country where you would have unions, hotels, the chamber of commerce all coming together and supporting a single proposal and I think that’s what’s really special about tonight, the process brought disparate interests into the room, got them to negotiate, as been stated, everyone gave a little, everyone got a little and that’s the best way to accomplish good policy.”

In a statement, Mayor Tony Vazquez said the rules will help maintain Santa Monica’s sense of community.

“Affordability is one of the City’s five strategic goals and increasing the minimum wage is a big milestone in our pursuit to preserve Santa Monica as an inclusive, affordable, and diverse community,” he said. “This will have a direct impact on workers’ lives, especially those in the service industry. Families will have a little more, which offers more of an opportunity to build a strong future.”

What you should know

Starting January 1, 2017, Santa Monica workers will begin earning additional paid sick leave beyond state requirements, reaching 72 hours for larger businesses and 40 hours for smaller businesses by January 2018. Accruals carry over annually, up to the accrual cap. Employers can provide sick leave plans that are more generous than the minimum requirement.

Employers collecting service charges must distribute 100 percent of the proceeds to employees, which can include back of house workers. Heathcare-related surcharges must also be distributed to employees in segregated accounts or as wages. Employers must clearly describe service charges to customers, must share how revenue is distributed with employees, and must maintain service charge distribution records.

Matching the state law, employees working in a job activity for the first time can earn 85 percent of the minimum wage for the first 160 hours of employment.

Employers cannot retaliate against employees for rights protected under the minimum wage law, including reducing employees’ hours or other benefits directly related to the minimum wage increase. The enforcement portion of the ordinance also includes penalties for noncompliance, and offers flexibility in penalty assessment, as well as an emphasis on employer outreach and education.

editor@www.smdp.com