Guide to Minimum Wage Laws in California

Barista rightsThis is part of our Guide to Laws for Employees in California.

What is the minimum wage in California?

In most of California, as of Jan 1, 2024, minimum wage is $16 per hour for all employers, regardless of size.1Cal Labor Code Sec 1182.12 The minimum wage will increase each year based on inflation rates.

Some cities have an even higher minimum wage than the state law. See the minimum wage for the Los Angeles area, and the San Francisco area.

See more at the California Department of Industrial Relations.2Industrial Welfare Commission Minimum Wage Order 2014.

The minimum wage is even higher for workers in the healthcare and fast food industries. See the Department of Industrial Relations for more.

Do “tipped employees” have a lower minimum wage and do tips count towards the minimum?

In CA there is no separate minimum wage for “tipped employees.” Tips may not be counted towards min wage that your employer must cover, and tips belong to you as the employee (but you may be required to pool tips with other employees, as long as employer does not get any of the tips).3Cal Labor Code Sec 351; Henning v. Industrial Welfare Com. (1988) 46 C3d 1262 See Dept of Industrial Relations for more.

Is there a higher minimum wage for fast food workers in California?

There will be if voters approve of the new fast food worker protection law, AB 257.

If I am in sales and being paid solely on commission, how does minimum wage work?

If you are doing sales as an independent contractor (see above), minimum wage probably won’t apply. If you are an employee paid solely on commission, you are entitled to at least minimum wage. Also, your employer may not ask you to do work unrelated to selling. This would violate minimum wage laws since you are essentially uncompensated for this work.4Balasanyan v Nordstrom, Inc. (SD Cal 2012) 913 F Supp 2d 1001

Are there any exemptions from minimum wage?

A few types of employees do NOT need to be paid min wage, including if you are an “exempt employee”; if you do outside sales; where the employer is your parent, spouse, or child; or where you are participating in a national service program such as AmeriCorps.5Industrial Welfare Commission Wage Order Nos. 1–2001—15–2001, §§1(C)–(E), 4(C); 8 Cal Code Regs §§11010–11150, §§1(C)–(E), 4(C)

Can I waive my right to minimum wage?

No, employees are not allowed to waive the right to minimum wage, whether by contract or otherwise.6Cal Labor Code Sec 219.

Further Resources

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