California Wage and Hour Laws

California rules on employee overtime, wage and hour law, and fair pay.

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What is the minimum wage in California?

The minimum wage in California is $8 per hour until July 1, 2014, when it will increase to $9 an hour. On January 1, 2016, the minimum wage will increase again, to $10 an hour. 

Is the minimum wage different in California for tipped employees?

Although the FLSA and the laws of some states allow employers to pay tipped employees a lower minimum wage, California law does not. In California, tipped employees are entitled to the full minimum wage for every hour worked.

(For more information, see Nolo’s article Tips, Tip Pooling, and Tip Credits.)

When am I entitled to earn overtime in California?

In California, eligible employees must receive overtime if they work more than eight hours in a day or 40 hours in a week. After working 12 hours in a day, California employees must receive double time. If an employee works on a seventh day, that employee is entitled to time and a half for the first eight hours of work and double time for additional hours. Not every type of job is eligible for overtime, however. To learn more, see Nolo’s article Overtime Pay: Your Rights as an Employee and contact the state Department of Industrial Relations.

Am I entitled to a lunch or rest break in California?

Yes. Employees in California are entitled to a meal break of 30 minutes, unpaid, after five hours, except when the workday will be completed in six hours or less and the employer and employee consent to waive the meal break. The employee cannot work more than ten hours a day without a second 30-minute break, except if the workday is no more than 12 hours. The second meal break may be waived if the first meal break was not waived. An on-duty paid meal period is permitted when the nature of work prevents relief from all duties and the parties agree in writing. Employees are also entitled to a paid ten-minute rest period for each four hours worked or major fraction thereof, as practicable, in the middle of the work period. This is not required for California employees whose total daily work time is less than three-and-a-half hours.

To learn more about wage and hour laws in California, contact the California Department of Industrial Relations.

What are wage and hour laws?

Wage and hour laws set the basic standards for pay and time worked -- covering issues like minimum wage, tips, overtime, meal and rest breaks, what counts as time worked, when you must be paid, things your employer must pay for, and so on.

Where do wage and hour laws in California come from?

The federal wage and hour law is called the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). California also has its own wage and hour laws, and some local governments (like cities and counties) do, too. An employer who is subject to more than one law must follow the law that is most generous to the employee. For example, the federal minimum wage is currently $7.25 per hour, but employers in California, which has a higher minimum wage, must pay the higher amount.

Finding an employment law attorney

To locate an employment law attorney in your area in California, visit Nolo's Lawyer Directory, where you can view information about each lawyer's experience, education, and fees and, perhaps most importantly, the lawyer's general philosophy of practicing law. By using Nolo's directory, you can narrow down candidates before calling them for a phone or face-to-face interview.

Last updated on 01/01/2012.

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