Those who work for minimum wage in unincorporated San Mateo County will see their hourly rate rise beginning April 1.

Workers will make at least $16.50 an hour in unincorporated areas of the county starting April 1. It is the first local minimum wage for areas that range from commercial corridors to coastal farmland.

A San Mateo County spokesperson said the minimum wage must be paid to employees who work at least two hours a week, with few exceptions. Businesses of all sizes must pay workers at least $16.50 for all time worked within the geographic boundaries of unincorporated San Mateo County.

In November of last year, the county Board of Supervisors approved setting the minimum wage at $16.50 to put more money into the pockets of fast-food employees, agricultural laborers and other typically low-wage workers.

The new minimum wage is $1 per hour higher than the state’s minimum wage, which increased on Jan. 1.

“The board is proud to take a stand for the workers who are the backbone of our community,” said Dave Pine, county Board of Supervisors president. “Many of these workers were deemed essential during COVID, and it’s absolutely critical that we do what we can for them.”

San Mateo County’s new hourly minimum wage of $16.50 per hour is $1 higher than the state’s minimum wage, which increased on Jan. 1.

San Mateo County’s minimum wage applies to workers regardless of immigration status across a wide geographic region. This includes North Fair Oaks, home to the bustling Middlefield Road corridor, agricultural land stretching from south of Pacifica to Pescadero, Broadmoor Village in the North County and other unincorporated pockets.

The county’s Executive Office is working to ensure that both employees and employers are aware of the new minimum wage.

The California Labor Commissioner’s Office will ultimately enforce the minimum wage. County officials said this avoids establishing a new local enforcement agency while providing consistency across jurisdictions as the Labor Commissioner’s mission is to “ensure a just day’s pay in every workplace. …”

The ordinance also allows for an individual employee to sue his or her employer for not complying.

The new minimum wage applies to so-called gig workers, employees who get paid tips and both adults and minors. Mirroring the state’s minimum wage requirements, there is an exception for “learners”, who may earn 85 percent of the minimum wage for the first 160 hours of employment, then the full $16.50 per hour.

Starting Jan. 1, 2024, and then every following year, San Mateo County’s minimum wage will be set based on a formula involving the consumer price index, which tracks the prices of goods and services, and the prior year’s increase.