In the state of California, the state labor laws were created to protect the rights of workers within the state. So it’s important that employees look carefully at their individual state rights. This will show employees  what rights they have in regards to their employment and work environment, as well as the laws of the state outline the procedures employees can use to protect these rights. 

Part-time vs. Full-time in California

Under California’s Labor Code Section a full-time employee works 40 hours per week. Anyone working under 40 hours per week is considered a part-time employee.

Minimum Wage in California

Currently, in California the minimum wage is $10.50 an hour for companies with 26 employees or more. For companies that size, that rate is going to increase to $15 an hour by 2023. But  for companies with 25 employees or less, the current minimum wage is $10 per hour. By 2022 the rate will increase to $15 per hour for companies with 25 employees or less. 

California is planning on increasing the minimum wage every year until 2023 when all minimum wage employees will make $15 per hour. This is how the yearly breakdown will look:

  • January 1, 2017: $10.00/hour for businesses with less than 26 employees, $10.50 for businesses with 26 employees or more.
  • January 1, 2018: $10.50/hour for businesses with less than 26 employees, $11/hour for businesses with 26 employees or more.
  • January 1, 2019: $11/hour for businesses with less than 26 employees, $12 /hour for businesses with 26 employees or more.
  • January 1, 2020: $13/hour for businesses with less than 26 employees, $14 /hour for businesses with 26 employees or more.
  • January 1, 2021: $14/hour for businesses with less than 26 employees, $15/hour for businesses with 26 employees or more.
  • January 1, 2022: $15/hour for businesses with 25 employees or less.

Overtime in California

In California, any employee that works either past 8 hours during a single work day or works more than 6 consecutive days (each day is at least 8 hours) should be provided with overtime pay. If an employee works over 8 hours but less than 13 hours, then the overtime pay is calculated by one and one-half of the employee’s regular rate. The same rate is used during the 7th day of 7 consecutive 8-hour days of work. For employees that work over 12 hours in one day, the pay rate is calculated as double the regular pay for each hour past the 12-hour limit. If an employee has worked 7 consecutive days and on the 7th day works past 8 hours then for all the hours past the 8-hour limit, then the rate is double the usual rate. 

Salaried employees are also entitled to overtime pay. To calculate the hourly wage that should be used to determine the overtime pay, you need to determine your hourly pay based off of your yearly salary. Then you can use the same overtime methods described above to calculate how much overtime a salaried employee is entitled. 

Employees should be aware, however, that employers can demand that an employee work overtime. If an employee refuses to work overtime, that is a valid reason for the employer to fire the employee. The exception to this is if the employee has worked over 72 hours the week before, they cannot be asked to work overtime.

Health Benefits in California

As of now, any employer that has more than 50 or more full-time employees must offer health insurance. This plan must cover at least 60% of typical health costs. But these benefits are not owed to  part-time employees. It is important to note that the health insurance laws may change soon and employees should consult with a local lawyer in case of any new laws that pass.

Discrimination in California

If you have faced discrimination at your place of employment first you must file a claim with either the State Department of Fair Employment and Housing or the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. If the employee and employer do not reach a resolution through either of these agencies, then the employee may sue the employer. However, the employer must first file a claim with either of the two agencies before any potential lawsuit. The agency that you filed with must provide you with a “Right to Sue” letter that you can then use to sue your employer. 

In California an employee cannot be fired or face other retaliation if they report any suspected discrimination. California also has no limit on the amount you can recover under compensatory or punitive damages for employment discrimination. The cost of litigation and lawyer’s fees can also be requested in these cases. 

Time Off in California

The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) only covers employees that are employed by companies that have 50 or more employees and conduct business in multiple states. California, however, only has a requirement that the employer has 50 or more employees or is a government entity in the state or cities of California. In California, FMLA is extended because it does not have to be shared between spouses, female employees affected by pregnancy and labor (or related medical condition) are allowed up to 6 weeks of leave, pregnancy leave is allowed for a reasonable period of time (not over 4 months) and State employees are allowed 12 months of leave for pregnancy, childbirth, adoption or care of an infant. 

All employees, even those working for companies with less than 50 employees, are eligible to collect up to 55% of their wages for up to 6 weeks while taking time off to care for an ill family member, to care for a newborn or newly adopted child. The wages are capped at $728 per week. Finally, employers with less than 50 employees do not have to hold your job for you if you do take leave. 

California also offers Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL) which applies to all employers with 5 or more employees and can be taken for up to 4 months. Employees must have paid into State Disability Insurance to qualify for paid leave. Employers can also require that employees use any accrued sick leave during this time. This leave also applies to non-pregnant employees, non-pregnant partners and same-sex couples.
Paid sick leave is available to all employees regardless of whether they are part-time or full-time. The only requirements California has is that the employee must have worked for the employer for a 90-day probationary period and works in California at least 30-days within a year. 

Where Can I Find a Local Employment Lawyer to Help Me?

If you think you are not getting the basic rights and protections offered by your state’s labor laws, then contact a local employment lawyer today.