Panera Franchise in California Increases Minimum Wage to $20

The owner of a Panera Bread franchise in California has declared that his establishments will implement a minimum wage of at least $20 per hour from April 1, 2024, following a controversy surrounding the applicability of a new state minimum wage law for fast-food workers to his businesses, as reported by CNN on March 5.


The new legislation stipulates that the minimum wage for all fast food workers must be increased from $16 to $20 per hour, starting April 1, excluding those working in establishments involved in the production and sale of bread as a standalone menu item.


This particular exemption led to the fueling of political allegations, as reports indicated that it seemed tailored to benefit the Panera Bread restaurants in California.


The claims led to denials from parties involved and were dismissed, contended with the notion that Panera Bread might not be exempt due to the fact that many chain bakeries, Panera Bread included, prepare dough centrally off-site before transporting it to retail locations for baking and sale, technically not producing bread on-site.


The exemption’s practical value were said to be minimal, as Panera would still need to offer comparable wages to remain competitive, given that its fast-food industry rivals were not exempt.


Sequentially, a decision was announced by the franchise owner to pay all hourly workers pre-tip wages of $20 per hour or higher at Panera Bread establishments, irrespective of whether his fast-casual bakeries are granted an exemption from the recently implemented minimum wage law or not.


Additional Information:


  • Established in 1987, there are a combined 188 Panera Bread locations situated in California.
  • As of January 1, 2024, the minimum wage in California has increased from $15.50 to $16.00 per hour, and local regulations might mandate an even higher minimum wage.
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