From Redding to Chula Vista, California minimum wage law covers both full-time and part-time workers across all industries. The state has established one of the highest minimum wages of any state, as well as set the standard for enforcing minimum wage laws through fines and other types of penalties.
If you receive less than the minimum wage in California, you should first speak with your employer. If your employer refuses to follow California minimum wage law, then the time has come to contact a California-licensed employment attorney.
California Minimum Wage for 2021 and Beyond
California employment wage and hour statutes base the minimum wage on the number of workers an employer has on payroll.
25 or fewer employees: $13.00 an hour
26 or more employees: $14.00 an hour
California has based its minimum wage on the number of employees since the first minimum wage law went into effect. However, on January 1, 2023, employers of all sizes in California must pay a uniform minimum wage of $15.00 an hour.
Starting on January 1, 2023, for employers with at least 26 employees and January 1, 2024, for employers with fewer than 26 employees, California plans to increase the minimum wage annually based on the lesser of 3.5 percent and the increase in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers.
When the California minimum wage hits $15.00 on January 1, 2023, the state’s minimum wage will more than double the federal minimum wage.
Local Minimum Wage
The California Constitution grants municipalities the power to establish minimum wages within their jurisdictions. Several California cities and counties have taken advantage of the legal power by establishing minimum wages that exceed the federal minimum wage and, in some cases, exceed California’s minimum wage.
- San Diego-$13.00
- Los Angeles-$14.25 for employers with fewer than 26 employees/$15.00 for employers with more than 25 employees
- San Jose-$15.25
- San Francisco-$16.07
Minimum Wage for Tipped workers
Unlike federal minimum wage statutes, California does not differentiate between tipped employees and other workers. This means tipped employees receive the same minimum wage that every other worker receives as mandated by the appropriate jurisdiction.
Employers cannot under any circumstance withhold the gratuities earned by tipped employees, including the costs associated with paying credit card processing fees. A tipped employee has the right to get paid tips on the first payday following the date a customer added a gratuity to a bill.
California Law and Tip Sharing
California law allows employers to require tipped employees to pool their gratuities. Tip sharing represents a process that pools every tipped employee’s gratuities over the same shift. Employers then distribute the shared tips by following a set of factors. California law prohibits owners, managers, and supervisors from participating in any type of tip-sharing arrangement.
To encourage employers to hire workers that have disabilities, California’s employment wage and hour law grants employers the right to hire a disabled worker at a wage rate that falls below the established minimum wage. Employers that want to qualify for subminimum wage rate status must gain approval for a license issued by the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement.
California law also allows employers to pay trainees a subminimum wage that is not less than 85 percent of the standard minimum wage. Also referred to as learners under the State Code, trainees earn a subminimum wage for no more than the first 160 hours of employment. Workers receive the trainee designation by having no previous experience working in the job for which their employers hired them. Apprentices fall in the “learner” category, with the Industrial Welfare Commission setting the subminimum wage for many different types of trades.
Statute of Limitations
If your employer has not compensated you at least the California minimum wage, then you need to act fast to file a claim within the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations for filing a minimum wage claim runs three years for most cases. However, if a worker plans to enforce a written employment contract, then the statute of limitations for filing a minimum wage claim is four years. For some claims, workers can try to extend the three-year statute of limitations to four years by filing a minimum wage claim under California’s unfair competition law.
Working with a California employment lawyer can keep you on track to file a minimum wage claim before the expiration of the statute of limitations. Your lawyer can also help you organize the paperwork required to file a successful minimum wage claim.