Wage and hour laws in California protect workers from being taken advantage of by employers, and California has some of the strongest worker protections in the world. Following are some basic things to understand about California wage and hour laws:
The current minimum wage in California is $13 per hour for employers with up to 25 employees, and $14 per hour for employers with more than 25 employees. Over the next couple of years, the minimum wage in the state is set to increase to $15 per hour for all employers. Important: cities throughout California have established their own minimum wage that may be higher than the state’s minimum wage. Check with an employment law attorney if you have questions about your city’s minimum wage requirements.
There are several rules about overtime in California that can increase a worker’s pay by either 1.5 times or 2 times their regular rate. Pay must be increased by 1.5 times the regular rate if:
• An employee works more than 8 hours in a single workday or more than 40 hours in a workweek
• An employee works up to 8 extra hours on the 7th consecutive day in one week
Pay must be increased by 2 times the regular rate if:
• An employee works more than 12 hours of work in a single workday
• An employee works more than 8 hours on the 7th consecutive day in a workweek
Meals and breaks
Wage and hour law in California also includes rules about meal and rest breaks. Any employee who works for more than five consecutive hours is entitled to a 30-minute meal break. The meal break must be free of all work duties.
Employees in California are also entitled to a paid 10-minute rest break for each four-hour period worked. The rest break must also be free of all work duties.
Failure to provide meal and rest breaks is a growing problem in California workplaces. If your employer fails to provide proper meal and rest breaks, you may be entitled to significant compensation for missed breaks. Learn more at our meal and rest break overview.
What to do if your employer is violating wage and hour laws
You should inform your employer if they are violating wage and hour laws by paying you less than minimum wage, miscalculating overtime pay, or failing to provide proper meal and rest breaks. You can also contact a California employment law attorney to discuss your options. In many cases, employers are not willing to make the correct changes in the workplace, and this often affects multiple employees. To learn more about widespread employment law violations, please see our overview of employment class actions.