California State Wage and Overtime Laws | Mann & Elias
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California State Wage And Overtime Laws

California Workers’ Rights Laws

Wage and hour laws can be defined as encompassing minimum wage, tips, overtime, meal and rest breaks, pay dates, and the like. While there are federal laws regarding minimum wage and overtime pay, California amends these subjects with its own laws and specifications. Wage and overtime laws in California actually changed in 2020, so your employer may not be within the limits of the law, depending on how they are compensating you for your time. If you feel your California-based employer has not been forthcoming and fair surrounding your wage and overtime pay, then you should contact an unpaid overtime lawyer in Los Angeles with your questions. Together, you and your attorneys can build a case regarding your compensation.

Minimum Wage

Minimum wage in California is higher than most states, partially because of the more expensive standard of living. Lawmakers recently voted to increase the minimum wage over the course of a few years, with the amount ascending little by little before reaching $15 an hour. California’s current minimum wage rate is $12 an hour for businesses with 26 or more employees (larger businesses) and $11 an hour for businesses with less than 26 employees (smaller businesses). In 2021, the minimum wage will increase to $13 an hour for smaller employers, and larger businesses will have to pay workers $14.00 an hour. The annual increases will continue until the year 2023 when all companies must pay a minimum wage of $15 an hour.


As for working past the typical 40 hours a week, some employees are entitled to overtime. This is something your California employer should have included in the job offer that you signed. There are two classifications of workers in regards to overtime eligibility. The FLSA divides positions into “exempt” and “non-exempt.”
  • Exempt – Exempt employees do not earn overtime pay for additional hours worked. These kinds of employees are typically paid an annual salary, so their hours are not tracked as closely as if they were paid an hourly rate.
  • Non-Exempt – Non-exempt employees are eligible for overtime pay. Employees who fall within this category must be paid a minimum of 1.5 times their usual hourly rate for any overtime hours worked.
As the average workweek is understood to be 40 hours, any non-exempt employee should receive “time and a half,” meaning 1.5 times their hourly rate, for overtime hours worked. If an employee works 12 hours in a single day, California law requires they receive double time, meaning two times their regular rate. If an employee works all seven days in one week, that employee is entitled to time and a half for the first eight hours of work on that seventh day and double time for any additional hours. Since the California law differs from what is commonplace in other states, it’s possible that you need legal representation to sue an employer for unpaid wages for which you’re entitled. Overtime dispute lawyers in Los Angeles will be vital in ensuring that you are being compensated legally.


Service industry jobs have the additional benefit of earning tips paid by the customer for a job well done. Tips are voluntarily given by patrons, and only non-managerial, customer-facing employees are entitled to them. Tips should not be subtracted from an employee’s paycheck, nor should they be considered part of their regular rate of pay. If your employer is deducting the number of tips you earned from your paycheck, then what they are doing is illegal and you may need a workers’ rights attorney. Tip pooling is practiced in some bars and restaurants to make sure that all customer-facing employees are getting paid for their hard work. Typically, all gratuities from the workday or work week are added together and distributed to employees based on their hours.

Lunch and Rest Breaks

Rest breaks are given to employees to ensure that they have time to eat and that they aren’t being overworked, as overworked employees are more susceptible to workplace injuries. State law in California requires that employees be given a 30 minute, unpaid meal break if they are working over six hours in one day. This break should be taken after five hours of work. If the employee is working less than six hours that day, they can waive this rest period, but both the employee and their supervisor must consent.

Ensuring Compensation

Since California wage and overtime laws changed in the past year, it’s possible your employer has not caught on yet to these new regulations. These laws were put in place to provide more support to the working population, and any business that is not adhering to the new minimum wage and overtime laws is committing a crime. If this is your case, then you may have a claim for compensation. At Mann & Elias, we can go over your case with you and compare your hours worked to the amount you have been paid. If your workers’ rights lawyer finds that you are missing compensation, you can put together a case and bring your employer to court. Don’t wait on filing your claim; schedule a consultation with one of our skilled attorneys now to avoid missing out on any unpaid wages.


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