Capitol Alert

After college payroll fiasco, Gavin Newsom signs law requiring UC to pay staff on time

The University of California must pay its employees on time under a new law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

The law comes more than a year after UC employees, including many students, began reporting skipped or late paychecks as a result of errors attributable to the implementation of the new human resources system UCPath, which has cost the university system around $500 million to implement.

In February, the UC system paid out more than $162,000 in “make whole” payments to student employees who received missed, delayed or smaller-than-expected payments due to UC Path.

Under the new law, employees of the regents of the University of California must be paid on a regular payday, while employees paid monthly must receive their pay no later than five days after the close of the monthly payroll period.

Previously, UC was exempt from the state law requiring employers in the private sector to pay their employees on a timely basis.

“Workers everywhere — including at the University of California — deserve to always get paid correctly and on time,” said bill sponsor Sen. Connie Leyva, D-Chino. “There is absolutely no reason why a public employer, especially since private employers are already required to do so, should be exempt from timely pay requirements.”

Also praising the new law was Kavitha Iyengar, president of UAW Local 2865, a union representing 18,000 student employees in the UC system.

“For most employers, not paying workers on time is a form of wage theft, but until today UC has been exempt from these laws,” Iyengar said in a statement. “Because there were no consequences, UC administrators chose to roll out their troubled new payment system – UC Path – knowing that would cause many workers to go unpaid. This upended the lives of many UC employees, especially those who live paycheck to paycheck. Some faced eviction notices, cancelled health care, payday loan interest charges, and food insecurity because of it.”

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Andrew Sheeler covers California’s unique political climate for McClatchy. He has covered crime and politics from Interior Alaska to North Dakota’s oil patch to the rugged coast of southern Oregon. He attended the University of Alaska Fairbanks.