Economic Development FAQs

How do employees report a Petaluma minimum wage violation?

To report an employer who is suspected of not paying the correct minimum wage, please complete the Petaluma minimum wage violation intake form or send an email to [email protected].

How does the City enforce the Petaluma minimum wage?

The City, rather than the State, is responsible for enforcing the proposed ordinance, just as it is responsible for enforcing any other law adopted by the City Council.

The proposed ordinance gives the City the right to investigate suspected violations and to request employee records as part of its investigation.

Other cities with similar ordinances have found that most violations are the result of an oversight by the employer or confusion about the types of employees covered, rather than an intentional effort to cheat employees. These cities have taken a conciliatory approach to correcting any employer errors.

The City of Petaluma is following the conciliatory model as well.

What rights do employees have with the Petaluma minimum wage?

The Petaluma minimum wage ordinance gives employees, an employee representative, or any other person the right to report suspected violations. It also gives them the right to bring legal action against an employer. Finally, it discusses remedies if a violation is found.

Are there noticing requirements for employers?

Similar to the State’s wage requirements, the proposed Petaluma ordinance requires employers to inform employees of the local wage and their rights at the onset of their employment and on an annual basis.

Employers also need to put up posters or flyers listing the current wage and employee rights. These flyers need to be in the languages spoken by at least 10 percent of the workers. Each year the City will make available a .pdf copy of a sample poster with updated wage information.

Click below for a sample 2023 notification letter and 2023 poster.

Notification Letter (in English and Spanish)
Poster (in English and Spanish)

How do commissions affect the Petaluma minimum wage?

Commissions can be factored in when calculating the Petaluma minimum wage. Employers shall use State guidelines for calculating minimum wage for commissioned employees. The state minimum wage can be used to calculate wages for these employees, as long as their hourly wage is no less than the Petaluma minimum wage. Because this is a complex issue, we recommend you check with an attorney or a labor law expert.

How do State Wage Orders Affect the Petaluma Minimum Wage?

State Wage Orders regulate wages, hours, and working conditions of industries. Under these wage orders, certain types of employees must be paid a defined percentage over the state minimum wage. For example, auto technicians who bring their own tools must be paid twice the state minimum wage.

The state minimum wage can be used to calculate wages for these employees, as long as their hourly wage is no less than the Petaluma minimum wage. Because this is a complex issue, we recommend you check with an attorney or a labor law expert.

Who is covered or subject to Petaluma minimum wage?

This ordinance covers all employees who work at least 2 hours per week in the City limits and who qualify for the minimum wage according to the California Labor Code. Tips and benefits cannot be included when calculating the Petaluma minimum wage.

The ordinance does not apply to Federal, State, or County agencies. It also does not apply to work done outside the Petaluma City limits or to time an employee spends travelling through the city to get to another destination.

With the exception of Federal, State, and County agencies, all employers are subject to the Petaluma minimum wage.

Who should be contacted if an employee is not being paid correctly?

Employees who believe they are not being paid in accordance with the Petaluma Living Wage ordinance or the Petaluma Minimum Wage Ordinance should contact the City’s Economic Development Division at [email protected].

What is the difference between the Petaluma Living Wage ordinance and the Petaluma Minimum Wage Ordinance?

The Petaluma living wage ordinance applies to employees of the City or for-profit entities that contract with the City. The Petaluma Living Wage must be paid for hours worked on behalf of the City and/or work funded by City monies, regardless of where that work happens.

The Petaluma minimum wage ordinance applies to anyone who qualifies as a non-exempt employee under State minimum wage laws, for hours worked within the Petaluma City limits. Most employers, including businesses and nonprofits, are subject to Petaluma’s minimum wage ordinance; the exceptions are federal and state agencies. Tips and benefits cannot be considered when calculating the Petaluma minimum wage. Click HERE for information about the Petaluma minimum wage.

What is the minimum wage in Petaluma?

Petaluma has a local minimum wage that is higher than the State minimum wage. This minimum wage applies to hours worked within the city limits. The wage for 2022 is $15.85. Effective January 1, 2023, the Petaluma minimum wage will be $17.06 per hour for all employers, regardless of size. The 2023 wage reflects an increase of 7.6% based on June prior year CPI-W, as shown in this table – CPI-W table.

Check out our minimum wage web page for more info about the Petaluma minimum wage ordinance.

What is a business license inspection and how do I schedule one?

As part of the business license process, the City’s Fire Prevention and Building Divisions need to inspect your business to ensure that you business meets minimum requirements for safety and emergency access. To schedule a business license inspection, send email to [email protected] petaluma.org.

You can prepare for the inspection by reviewing this checklist of items.

How do I pay for a Business Certificate and Tax?

Go to our Business Certificate page to learn how to apply for or renew a business certificate, sometimes known as a business license, and pay your business tax.

 

How much is the business tax in Petaluma?

For the first year, the City assesses business taxes based on the type of business. After the first year, the taxes are assessed based on the business’s gross receipts. Refer to the Business Certificate Fees Page to determine your tax obligations and how to pay.

What is a zoning check?

The City’s Zoning Ordinance is the set of rules that describes what types of activities are allowed within the City, where these activities can occur, and how physical structures can be developed or changed to accommodate these activities. Before you sign a lease/purchase agreement or commit to a project, consult with the City’s Planning Division for a “zoning check” to confirm whether your project is allowed and to identify requirements and limitations.

Do I need a permit to operate a vacation or short-term rental?

Yes. The City requires a Business Certificate, a special permit, and payment of Transient Occupancy Taxes (TOT). See the Short Term Rental Checklist for requirements, instructions, and forms.

How do I start a home-based business?

Home-based businesses require a business certificate and a home occupation permit that must be approved by the Planning Division and renewed annually. This process ensures that neighborhoods are protected from the impacts of commercial activities.

Do I need a business license and how do I get one?

Every business that is located in or doing business within the City limits is required to obtain a business certificate (often referred to as a business license) from the City and pay appropriate business tax. The application review process takes about six weeks and requires a Safety Inspection (see checklist). See the Business Certificate Fees Chart  and download the application form and instructions to start.

How do I start a cannabis business?

The City of Petaluma regulates the types of cannabis businesses and requires an annual permit and review by the Police Department. Learn more and download the permit application at https://petalumastar.com/cannabis-business/.

What permits do I need to start or expand a business?

It depends on the type of business and the location you’ve chosen. Use the online permit scoping tool at petaluma.opencounter.com to scope out the permits and fees. 

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