California Industrial Welfare Commission Wage Orders
For over 20 years, Legislative Intent Service has been researching California Industrial Welfare Commission Wage Orders. Our massive, in-house collection includes thousands of pages of minutes, transcripts, correspondence and other rulemaking documents regarding wage order provisions, many of which predate World War II or were enacted shortly thereafter.
What is a Wage Order?
If you’re reading this in California, you’ve probably seen it: the “official notice” in your break room with the state seal. Unless you practice labor and employment law, you probably haven’t given this 10-12 page document (or large poster) a second thought.
Regardless of your area of practice, these California Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC) wage orders are relevant because they govern the wages, hours and working conditions for each specific industry in California.
The California Supreme Court recently provided guidance on the rest and meal periods of Wage Order No. 5 in Brinker Restaurant Corp. v. Superior Court (Hohnbaum).[i]
The Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC) was established by the Legislature in 1913 to:
… ascertain the wages paid, the hours and conditions of labor and employment in the various occupations, trades and industries in which women and minors are employed in the State of California; and to make investigations into the comfort, health, safety and welfare of such women and minors.[ii]
Shortly thereafter, the IWC adopted its first two wage orders in 1916 to regulate the Fruit and Vegetable Canning Industry. These first orders included detailed requirements for on-site restrooms (including the requirement for “an adequate supply of toilet paper … in every water closet compartment”) and for “at least one hour for noon day meal…”[iii]
Read more about the history of California Wage Orders and the Industrial Welfare Commission or peruse past issues of Engrossment here.