If you are a California resident, it is important to stay informed on the State’s employee overtime, wage and hour law, and fair pay. Exceptions exist, so when in doubt, check the California Labor Code or consult an attorney.
1) Minimum Wage:
Starting on January 1, 2017, a gradual increase in wages based on company size, will continue yearly until 2023. The minimum wage for employers with up to 25 employees, is $10 an hour. For employers with 26 or more employees, the rate is $10.50 an hour. In 2018, the minimum wage will go up 50 cents for both small and large employers until the minimum wage reaches $15 in 2023.
2) Tipped Employees and Minimum Wage:
In some states, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) allows tipped employees to be paid less than minimum wage, but in California, tipped employees are to be paid the full minimum wage.
3) Overtime Rates:
Employees working more than 8 hours, and up to 12 hours a day or more than 40 hours a week must receive overtime at 1.5 times the hourly rate. If more than 12 hours are worked in a day, employees must receive double time. Employees who work on day 7 are entitled to 1.5 times pay for the first 8 hours, and double time thereafter.
4) Lunch and Rest Breaks:
After five hours of work, so long as the workday is longer than 6 hours, employees are entitled to a 30 minute unpaid break, unless the employee and employer agree to waive the break. A second 30 minute break is required if the employee works more than 10 hours, however, if the hours worked are less than 12, the second break may be waived only if the first break was not. Additionally, for every four hours of work, employees are entitled to a paid 10 minute rest break.
5) Reporting Time Pay Rule:
If an employee reports to work without being called off, they are entitled to get paid even if they are not put to work or are furnished with less than half of their work load. They must be paid for at least half of the usually scheduled day’s work; the minimum is two hours, and the maximum is four hours of paid work.
6) Exempt Employees:
To be exempt from overtime pay, employees in the roles of executives, administrative, or professional employees, must meet the following criteria: white collar job, salary requirement, primary duties are exempt duties, and the employee must exercise independent judgment in performing their duties. If these criteria are unmet, they are usually not considered exempt.
7) Vacation Pay:
Vacation pay, including floating holidays and paid time off are considered wages under California law.
8) Nonexempt Employees:
Nonexempt employees must be paid overtime wages when applicable, and also must be paid at least semimonthly under the California Labor Code requirements.
9) Paid Sick Leave for Part-Time Employees:
Part-time employees can accrue paid sick leave if they’ve worked in California for the same employer for 30 days or more. Paid sick leave usually accrues at one hour per 30 hours worked, and both full and part-time employees can use 24 hours a year.
10) Wage Claims:
Generally, employees have three years to file a wage claim against an employer, and federal claims must usually be filed within two years. Exceptions exist that could shorten the statute of limitations, so be sure to stay on top of time limitations if you plan on filing a claim.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
If you are having issues with your employer and the California wage and hour law, speak with an employment attorney as soon as possible. You may be entitled to compensation, and a qualified lawyer in your area can advise you of your best course of action, in addition to representing your best interests.