Irvine’s ‘Hero Pay’ for Grocery Workers Begins in March 

February 24, 2021 Updated: February 24, 2021

A pay boost for eligible Irvine grocery workers will go into effect next month after city council on Feb. 26 finalized its hero pay ordinance.

Beginning March 25, grocery store workers at certain stores who work at least two hours per week will receive a mandated $4 per hour increase to their regular pay.

Councilmember Anthony Kuo wanted to postpone finalizing the ordinance until a list of eligible retailers was available for review.

He said it is unclear which stores were included and which were exempt from the ordinance.

The citywide mandate applies to stores with 20 or more employees, or more than 500 workers nationwide. It also applies to stores that are 85,000 square feet or more in size; stores less than 15,000 square feet would be exempt.

A city employee said a list of eligible stores was not available.

Councilmember Mike Carol said he, too, would like more information before codifying the law.

However, a vote to postpone the ordinance failed with a 3-2 vote.

Hero pay does not apply to managers, supervisors, or confidential employees.

Qualifying Irvine employers must pay their employees the hero pay for at least 120 days following March 25.

Meanwhile, Buena Park city council on Feb. 23 voted to move forward with with the first reading its own ordinance to boost the paychecks of grocery workers during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Like Irvine, it is considering a proposed $4 per hour premium pay to grocery store employees at qualifying retail businesses.

Eligible employees must work at least two hours per week at a business that employs more than 20 people locally, and is part of a company or franchise with at least 500 employees nationally.

The store must be larger than 15,000 square feet, with at least 70 percent of its floor area devoted to food products, or generate at least 70 percent of its revenue from food sales.

Stores with more than 85,000 square feet that devote at least 10 percent of their sales floor area to food sales would also qualify, as would retail pharmacies that sell food.