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4 things to know about minimum wage laws in California

On Behalf of | Dec 15, 2023 | Wage & Hour Law

Workers in California must be paid at least the state’s minimum wage, which is more than the federal minimum wage. As of January 1, 2024, the state minimum wage is $16.00 for most employees. Employees in certain industries will see even higher state minimum wages this year.

Employees and employers understand the basic ins and outs of this law, as a relatively comprehensive understanding can enable workers to know what to expect and employers to ensure compliance.

Cities may have higher minimum wage

Some cities in California have a higher minimum wage than the state. For example, San Diego’s hourly minimum wage is $16.30 as of January 1, 2023. West Hollywood has the highest minimum wage at $19.08 per hour. It’s important to note the minimum wage that applies is the one that’s most beneficial for the employee, so if the city’s rate is higher than state or federal, the city’s is the one that applies.

Lower pay is possible for learners

Individuals who are considered learners must be paid at least 85% of the standard minimum wage with the amount rounded to the nearest nickel, according to MW-2023. That only applies for the first 160 hours and only if the person has no prior experience in the occupation.

Other exceptions to minimum wage

There are also exceptions to the minimum wage for individuals who work for nonprofit organizations. Workers who have a physical or mental disability may also be paid an amount less than minimum wage. A special license is required for these situations.

No employee waivers are possible

California doesn’t allow employees to agree to work for less than minimum wage. Even collective bargaining can’t reduce the minimum wage that employees are paid. Additionally, there’s no minimum wage difference between minors and adults.

All employers must pay every employee at least minimum wage unless the employee and employer both meet particular requirements. Employees who aren’t paid minimum wage as required have the right to file a complaint to receive what’s due to them. These matters can become complex, so seeking legal guidance when questions and concerns arise is wise.