California Wage Law requires employers in California who require their employees to provide and use personal tools for work-related tasks to abide by California’s Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC) Order No. 4-2001. This order requires that employers adequately compensate their employees when they are not providing said employees with proper payment through the right to double the minimum wage. There are two exceptions to this practice in California Wage Law. Therefore, understanding your rights as a blue-collar employee in California can help ensure proper payment while simultaneously mitigating the risk of exploitation.

Compensation for Using Personal Tools on the Job in California:

Various pieces of California legislation governing the legal wage employers must pay their workers. Specifically, the legislation outlines the protections provided to workers who must use their tools for work to ensure adequate compensation. Because of this, employees must understand their rights and protections to prevent mistreatment or improper pay by their employers.

California’s Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC) Order No. 4-2001: How Does it Affect Tools?

California’s Industrial Welfare Commission Order No. 4-2001 requires employers who require their employees to use tools or other equipment to perform their hired duties to either provide the necessary tools or equipment or pay their employees double the minimum wage. This statute is commonly known as the Double Minimum Wage Law. The minimum wage is the minimum amount that an employer can legally pay its employees. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, but this amount varies from state to state. In California, the state minimum wage is $14.00 per hour for companies with less than twenty-five employees and $15.00 per hour for companies employing 26 or more employees.

The Double Minimum Wage Law typically applies to California workers who work as mechanics and technicians. The broad application to this field is because these are the professions most often exploited by their employers. However, the protections provided by the California Wage Law are not specific to these employees.

Some Sectors Covered by the California Industrial Welfare Commission Orders Include:

  • Mechanics
  • Technicians
  • Hotel Housekeepers
  • Transportation Workers
  • Amusement Park Workers
  • Employees working in agriculture, mining, and construction
  • Individuals working in recreation, broadcasting, and the media

Though this list covers a significant portion of the employees protected by California Wage Law, employees should remember that it is not exhaustive. It is also important to note that there are some exceptions to the protections provided by the California Wage Law regarding particular industries that require the use of tools. These exceptions apply to beauty salons, barbershops, and cosmetology schools. Employers in these sectors can require their employees to provide their own devices without the obligation to pay them double the minimum wage. This exception is granted based on these employees’ types of tools and the work they perform. For information specific to the California Minimum Wage, visit the California Department of Industrial Relations.

Tool Wage in California:

Per the regulations set forth by California Wage Law, employers who require their employees to provide personal tools or equipment to perform their job functions must pay employees to double the minimum wage. This wage is known as the Tool Wage. As of 2022, the Tool Wage in California is $30.00 per hour. Historically, the California Minimum Wage has increased each year. Under the Double Minimum Wage Law regulations, the Tool Wage has also consistently increased each year. Therefore, if the California Minimum Wage continues to grow, the Tool Wage will also. And, if the California Minimum Wage should ever decrease, the Tool Wage will also decrease accordingly. Since the last minimum wage increase to $15.00, the Tool Wage increased to the following amounts:

  • For employers with 25 or fewer employees, the current Tool Wage is $28.00
  • For employers with 26 or more employees, the current Tool Wage is $30.00

Current legislation has set the present Tool Wage amounts based on the California State Minimum Wage amount as of January 1st, 2022.

Who Can Recover Penalties for California Wage Law Violations?

Under California Wage Law’s protections provided to employees, employers cannot avoid paying their employees double the minimum wage by providing only one set of the necessary tools to perform their job. To ensure proper compliance, employers who violate California Wage Law are subject to various penalties depending on the severity of the offense committed.

Understanding what classification an individual falls into as an employee in California is crucial in determining what protections wage law provides and what penalties an employee can collect following a violation. Specifically, understanding the difference between an independent contractor and an employee is key to claiming fines to recover lost wages through proper means of compensation.

Independent Contractors vs. Employees:

California Law defines an independent contractor as an individual who typically works for themselves. This category of workers are freelance workers and can work on multiple projects at once and grant themselves time off at their discretion. Generally, the protections provided to workers who must use their tools do not extend to independent contractors. Under California’s Industrial Welfare Commission Order No. 4-2001, independent contractors who would fall in this classification work in beauty salons, barbershops, or are presently in cosmetology school.

California Law defines employees as anyone a business, government, person, or government agency hires for work. Under California Worker Laws, employees receive more protections than independent contractors. An excellent example of this difference is that employees are protected by California’s Welfare Commission Order No. 4-2001 when they must provide personal tools to fulfill their job’s roles and responsibilities. Therefore, unlike independent contractors, employees can legally claim penalties for lost wages and other wage labor violations.

Contact Pride Legal

If you or a loved are facing wage theft or have not been compensated for the use of personal tools on the job, we invite you to contact us at Pride Legal for legal counseling or any further questions. To protect your rights, hire someone who understands them.

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