California has passed a law that allows for a steady increase in the minimum wage throughout a five-year period. Currently in 2020, employers with 25 employees or fewer must pay a minimum wage of $12.00 per hour. For companies with over 25 employees, the minimum wage is $13.00 per hour. This rate is meant to be increased by $1.00 per year. By the year 2025, all employers regardless of size must pay a minimum wage of $15.00 per year.
What is the current minimum wage in California?
State law overrides the federal law of $7.25 per hour. For employers with under 25 employees, the minimum wage is $12.00. In 2021, the minimum wage will increase. For employers with over 26 employees, the minimum wage is $13.00. In 2021, the minimum wage will increase as well. By the year 2025, all employers must have a minimum wage of $15.00. Additionally, many cities have their own regulations on how much the minimum wage should be. For example, in the city of Berkeley, the minimum wage is $14.25. In Los Angeles, for employers with over 25 employees, the minimum wage is $14.25. The highest minimum wage of any city in California is in the city of San Francisco; coming in at $15.59 per hour. Cities enact these regulations due to the higher cost of living in those certain areas. It wouldn’t be fair or possible to live in some areas if the minimum wage was lower. Every business owner should have their company payrolls updated yearly in accordance with local and state ordinances.
Are there any requirements to be met to be eligible for minimum wage?
California Wage and Hour laws have a few exceptions to the state minimum wage requirements. For example, the minimum wage laws do not apply to:
-Student employees or camp counselors, the minimum wage is 85% for these employees
-Outside salespeople, who do not do the majority of their work at the business
-Participants in events
Exempt employees are employees who are exempt from overtime/meal breaks. If an employee is ‘exempt’ in one area, they must make that money up in another area. For example, if the exempt employee did not have any overtime or rest time, they would at least receive minimum wage. No employer is allowed to pay less than the minimum wage.
What compensation can I get if my employer is paying less than the minimum wage?
Employers are not legally allowed to pay an employee less than the minimum wage. There are a number of damages one could receive, including:
-The number of wages lost to being paid under minimum wage
-Interest on the lost amount
-Civil penalties designed to chastise the employer, which would consist of $100 of the initial violation and $250 per each pay period violated
In some cases, employers must pay liquidated damages. Liquidated damages are the exact amount of one was owed – so that means if the employee is eligible, they would receive double what they were owed. To be eligible to receive any liquidated damages, the employee must prove that the employer had been paying them under minimum wage in bad faith. If the employer is able to prove that they made a mistake in good faith, they would not need to pay any liquidated damages.
If one employee is being underpaid, chances are many more employees are probably being underpaid as well. In circumstances such as these, a class action lawsuit would be the better option when filing a suit with the employer. It may be in the best interest of the employees to come together and sue the employer as one, instead of different lawsuits.
Q: Are tipped employees exempt from minimum wage laws in California?
A: No, tipped employees are not exempt from the minimum wage laws in California. Although some states do not require minimum wage for tipped employees, California is not one of those states.
Q: Could an employer pay less than minimum wage if the employee agrees?
A: No, under no circumstances may an employer pay less than the minimum wage if the laws do not allow it (i.e student counselor). An employer cannot have an employee sign off on any document that allows the employee to be paid less than the minimum wage.
Q: When is an employee entitled to overtime pay in California?
A: In California, after working 40 hours a week or working over 8 hours a day, that employee is entitled to overtime pay. Overtime pay is 1.5x an employee’s normal pay. If an employee works for 7 consecutive days, the 7th-day pay is 1.5x the normal rate and 2x the rate after 8 hours.
Q: When are employees entitled to breaks in California?
A: After 5 hours of work, an employee is entitled to a 30 minutes unpaid meal break. If the job can be finished in 6 hours or less, the employee may waive their right to have a meal break. An employee may not work more than 10 hours a day without receiving a second meal break, except if the workday is no more than 12 hours. Some meal breaks may be paid if the employee and employer decide on doing so. Employees are also given a 10 minute paid period for every 4 hours worked.
Q: Are there penalties for missed meals or breaks?
A: Yes, if an employer does not give any meals or breaks, they would owe one hour of paid wage to the employee. They must also pay a full hour for every break they do not receive. For example, if an employee is not given a meal and a break during an 8-hour workday, they would receive 2 extra hours of wages.
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