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Okla.: State Bars Cities from Setting Minimum Wage, Sick Day Requirements

By Joanne Deschenaux  4/21/2014
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A new law in Oklahoma prohibits cities and towns from establishing mandatory minimum wage, sick-day or vacation requirements.

Senate Bill 1023 was signed into law by Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, a Republican, on April 14, 2014, after clearing the Oklahoma House April 7 on a 68-23 vote. The Senate approved the bill 34-9 on March 10.

The law “ensures municipalities in Oklahoma cannot mandate a minimum wage higher than the national rate,” according to the Oklahoma Office of the Governor. “President Obama and the Democratic Party are advocating for an increase in the minimum wage from $7.75 to $10.10,” said Fallin in an April 16 statement. “They believe that on this issue, like on so many others, the government can just mandate prosperity and growth with no consideration of economic reality.”

“President Obama and his Oklahoma surrogates say they want to raise the minimum wage to reduce poverty,” said Fallin, asserting that federal and local proponents of a minimum wage hike are “ignoring” the extent to which minimum wage workers are working part-time or entry-level positions.

“Mandating an increase in the minimum wage would require businesses to fire many of these part-time workers,” she said, adding that a mandated hike would “create a hardship” for small business owners, stifle job creation and increase costs for consumers.

According to the law, the measure is required as a matter of public policy and “overriding” state interest.

The state legislature “hereby occupies and preempts the entire field of legislation in this state touching in any way mandated minimum wage and employee benefits regarding mandatory minimum number of vacation or sick leave days,” the law reads.

“No municipality or other political subdivision of this state shall establish a mandatory minimum number of vacation or sick leave days, whether paid or unpaid, or a minimum wage rate which an employer would be required to pay or grant employees,” according to the law.

Joanne Deschenaux, J.D., is SHRM’s senior legal editor.

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