What does it mean?
The Garment Worker Protection Act will ensure that garment workers in California are paid hourly and not by piece rate. It will hold brands accountable for labour rights violations all along their supply chains (including outsourced suppliers).
Who is concerned?
All the brands and retailers that are directly or indirectly working with garment factories in California are concerned by this act. The obligations also apply directly to garment manufacturing employers.
What are the critical dates to remember?
The bill was signed into a law in December 2021
The act takes effect on January 1st 2022
An employee engaged in the performance of garment manufacturing shall not be paid by the piece or unit, or by piece rate. They must be paid at an hourly rate not less than the applicable minimum wage.
One of the goals of this act is to restore the liability of the brands and big companies who have managed to circumvent the existing Act: the Bill 633. Indeed, by multiplying layers of subcontracting they have managed not to fall under the definition of “garment manufacturer”.
To solve this problem, this Act extends the definition of garment manufacturing to all the activities involving altering a garment’s design, affixing a label to it, or preparing it.
It also engages the responsibility of the brand guarantors*, contractors** and manufacturers by making them liable for the full amount of unpaid wages and expenses owed to the garment workers, regardless of how many layers of subcontracting they may use.
* Brand guarantor
Any person contracting for the performance of garment manufacturing (includes licensing of a brand or name, regardless of whether the person with whom they contract performs or outsources manufacturing).
Any person who, with the assistance of employees, is engaged in garment manufacturing (including subcontractors that are primarily engaged in those operations).
Every employer engaged in garment manufacturing in California shall keep accurate records for 4 years showing the following information:
Name and addresses of all garment workers directly employed
Hours worked daily by employees
Daily production sheets and piece rates
Wages paid each payroll period
All contracts, invoices, purchase orders, work or job orders.
Garment licence of every person engaged in garment manufacturing
Age of all the minor employees
The employers must have this information ready in case a claim is made against them to the Labour Commissioner. They would be required to submit those books within 10 days after the reception of a claim by the Labour Commissioner.
Bill 633 from 1999 already introduced a fund to allow workers to recoup their stolen wages. However, this fund has proven not to be sufficient and will be reformed in order to protect the garment workers better.
Any garment manufacturer or contractor who fails to pay garment workers at an hourly rate not lower than the applicable minimum wage will be subject to compensatory damage of $200 per employee for each pay period in which the employee is paid by piece rate.
The consequence of wage theft is the reimbursement of any unpaid wage or associated expense owed to the employee. Garment workers can enforce this article by filing a claim with the Labour Commissioner. Brands, garment manufacturers and contractors must know that the employee’s claims of hours worked, wages, damages and penalties shall be presumed valid and shall be the Labour Commissioner’s assessment, unless they can provide specific evidence of the contrary.
This Act focuses as well on establishing a more effective system to impose penalties and sanctions against violations of any of the requirements described here.
To ensure compliance with the Act, firms should implement an effective system to keep records of all the relevant documentation mentioned above. Contact us for more information on how we can help your company.
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