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January 24, 2022

New FAQS clarify California’s Garment Worker Protection Act 

The Garment Worker Protection Act came into effect on 1 January with the new law addressing proper payment of employees in the garment industry and making brands accountable.

By Fi Forrest

California’s Labor Commissioner – who is charged with enforcement of US Senate Bill 62, known as the Garment Worker Protection Act, has published frequently asked questions (FAQs) online to help clarify the new rules.  

The new law expands the definition of the garment manufacturing industry for purposes of wage claim enforcement to include brand guarantors – thereby holding brands accountable, even for violations with third-party partners. The act also requires garment manufacturers to pay workers an hourly wage. 

The act was brought into California law in September 2021 by US governor Gavin Newsom, who said at the time: 

“California is holding corporations accountable and recognising the dignity and humanity of our workers, who have helped build the fifth-largest economy in the world. These measures protect marginalised low-wage workers, many of whom are women of colour and immigrants, ensuring they are paid what they are due and improving workplace conditions. We are committed to having their backs as we work to build a stronger, more inclusive economy.” 

The law includes some of the following requirements: 

  • Make garment manufacturers liable for guaranteeing payment of wages to employees of their contractors
  • Expand the definition of garment manufacturing to include dyeing, altering a garment’s design, and affixing a label to a garment
  • The bill prohibits any employee engaged in the performance of garment manufacturing to be paid by the piece or unit, or by the piece rate, except as specified. 

When passed, the act was supported by over 50 design professors and department chairs from the world’s top fashion schools and aimed at garment worker wage-reform. 

Some of the key FAQS for California’s Garment Worker Protection Act

Who is a contractor under the Garment Worker Protection Act?

“A contractor is generally the garment factory employing garment workers. It can be any person, including business entities, who primarily engages in garment manufacturing operations with the assistance of employees or others.”

Who is a garment manufacturer under the Garment Worker Protection Act?

“A garment manufacturer generally contracts with the contractor to have garments made. This term includes any person engaged in garment manufacturing who is not a contractor.

To be engaged in garment manufacturing means to perform garment-manufacturing operations for sale or resale or to contract with a contractor to have those operations performed.”

What are garment manufacturing operations?

“Garment manufacturing operations refer to the preparation of any garment or any article of apparel or accessories designed or intended to be worn by any individual for another person, such as: sewing, cutting, making, processing, repairing, finishing, assembling, dyeing, altering a garment’s design, causing another person to alter a garment’s design, or affixing a label on a garment. Garments include but are not limited to clothing, hats, gloves, handbags, hosiery, ties, scarfs, or belts.”

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