What are California’s wage laws?


We’ve all had jobs where we felt overworked and underpaid. Maybe you manned the grill at a fast food restaurant or hauled sod and gravel as a landscaper. But regardless of the job, California has laws that protect the rights of all workers.

As a worker in the state of California, the law guarantees that you have certain rights pertaining to how much you’re paid and when, daily breaks and protection from retaliation if you report noncompliance with labor laws.

Minimum wage

As of February 1, 2019, all California businesses with 26 or more employees must pay at least $12 per hour. Businesses with 25 or fewer employees must pay at least $11 hourly. Some cities and counties, though, have instituted higher minimum wages.

If you are a contractor or paid by the day or week, your pay must still equal at least minimum wage for the hours your worked.


For most jobs, overtime is equal to 1 ½ times your base pay. Overtime begins to accrue for all hours after eight hours in one day or 40 hours in one week. The first eight hours during your seventh day of working in one week also count as overtime.

You must receive doubletime for all hours after 12 in one day or after eight on the seventh day worked in one week. This applies for most occupations.


It is your right as an employee to take breaks. You must get a 10-minute paid break for every four hours worked. You also have a right to a 30-minute meal break after no more than five hours worked.


Employers must pay their employees at least twice monthly on regularly designated paydays. Whether paid in cash, check or direct deposit, you’re entitled to a pay stub or statement. Pay stubs must include pay period dates, gross pay, hours worked, hourly rates and time worked at each rate, deductions, net wages, name and employee ID and name and address of your employer.

Get help

If your rights as a worker are violated, it’s important to act quickly. There are certain time limits that dictate when you can file a complaint, and more recent complaints are easier to prove. It is illegal for your employer to fire you, discriminate against you or retaliate in any other way for making an honest complaint.

If you wish to file a complaint, be sure to have the name and address of your employer, your supervisors’ names and the name of the person who hired you. You may wish to seek the assistance of an attorney who can help you get compensated for any wages you are owed.

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