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Minimum wage exceptions in California

On Behalf of | Feb 11, 2024 | Wage & Hour Law

Employers should observe the state minimum wage. In California, this is $16.00 per hour for all employees as of January 1, 2024. Some cities in the state have higher minimum wages.

However, there are exceptions to the minimum wage law. 

They include;

Certain occupations and employer’s family members

Outside salespersons, apprentices who are regularly indentured under the State Division of Apprenticeship Standards and individuals who are the employer’s parent, spouse and child are exempt from the minimum wage law in California. 


Regardless of age, learners can be paid not less than 85% of the minimum wage rounded to the nearest nickel in the first 160 hours of employment. Note that for this rule to apply, the learner should have no previous similar or related experience to the occupation in question.

Employees who are mentally or physically disabled

The California minimum wage law exempts employees who are mentally or physically disabled or both. Non Profit organizations that employ disabled employees are also exempted from paying the minimum wage. However, this will change starting January 1, 2025.

Does the number of employees matter?

All employers, except those legally exempted, should pay employees the minimum wage, regardless of the number of employees.

What about those who get tips?

Tips cannot be used as payment toward the minimum wage. If you receive tips, your employer should pay the minimum wage without considering your tips.

Filing a wage claim

If you don’t fall under the stated exempted groups, and your employer pays you less than the minimum wage of $16.00/hour, you can file a lawsuit against your employer or a wage claim with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement. Ensure you provide adequate information when filing to avoid delays.

Wage theft is not uncommon in California. If you believe you have experienced it, learn more about your options to protect your rights.