Business and employment lawyers in California can help ensure your company complies with state and federal rules and regulations so you can avoid fines, penalties, and civil lawsuits. If your company has employees, California’s complex wage and hour rules are among the most vital set of laws and regulations that your organization must adhere to. Whether you decide to study these laws or retain a knowledgeable attorney to advise you, it is critical that employers understand the state specific guidelines that govern how employees must be paid, what benefits and break times they are entitled to, and the types of conduct employers are not permitted to engage in with regard to their employees. Five of the key rules that your company should know include the following.
The California Department of Industrial Relations indicates that overtime rules apply to all non-exempt employees aged 18 or older, as well as employees aged 16 or 17 who aren’t required by law to attend school. Click here for common exemptions to California’s overtime rules.
Unlike some jurisdictions, including federal over time law, California lawmakers have enacted both a daily and a weekly overtime rule. In California, all non-exempt employees are entitled to overtime if they work more than 40 hours per week or more than eight hours per day. Overtime hours are payable at a rate of 1 ½ times an employee’s regular rate of pay.
Minimum Wage Rules
California requires that all employees be paid at least minimum wage, with few limited exceptions. For employers with 26 or more workers, minimum wage began increasing annually in California as of January 1, 2017. For employees with 25 or fewer workers, minimum wage will begin annual increases starting January 1, 2018.
The state minimum wage beginning January 1, 2017 for larger employers was $10.50 per hour, while minimum wage for smaller employers continued to be $10.00 hourly. Minimum wage will increase in $0.50 increments annually through January 2022 for larger employers and through January 2023 for smaller employers, until minimum wage reaches $15 hourly. Employers should also be aware that some cities in California, such has San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Francisco have adopted ordinances establishing a minimum wage higher than the state minimum.
Workers Doing the Same Job Must be Paid the Same Wages
California’s Equal Pay Act prohibits employers from paying one worker less than another on the basis of gender, if the employees are doing equal work. The California Fair Pay Act, signed into law in October of 2015, strengthened the Equal Pay Act by requiring that employers now pay the same wages for substantially similar work, rather than just for equal work. The California Fair Pay Act also made it more difficult for employers to claim a bona fide factor other than sex to explain pay discrepancies and otherwise provided stronger protection for workers, making employers more vulnerable to lawsuits, including class action lawsuits, for equal pay violations.
Bi-Monthly Payments are Generally Required
Although there are some exceptions, the Department of Industrial Relations indicates that workers in California typically must receive pay at least twice per calendar month and workers must be paid on designated paydays, which occur on a regular schedule. Employers are also required by California law to post a notice in the workplace of when and where paychecks will be handed out. Overtime wages, like all wages, must be paid within the payday for the next regular payroll after the payroll period in which the overtime wages were earned.
Final Wages Must be Paid Immediately
Click here for further information on wage statement requirements.
If a worker is terminated, California law requires that the worker who was involuntarily discharged be paid all outstanding wages upon termination. Not only does a worker have to be paid all of his or her wages at the time of termination, but the employee must also be paid for any and all accrued vacation at the same time. If a group of employees are all laid off at the same time because seasonal employment related to fish, fruit or vegetables comes to an end, then those season employees have to be paid within 72 hours after being laid off.
Getting Help from Business Lawyers in California
The business and employment lawyers at Gehres Law Library provide invaluable help to companies who want to comply with these and other wage and hour laws and to companies against which a wage and hour claim or lawsuit has been filed. California is a very worker-friendly state and it is the responsibility of your company to know what the rules are and to follow them to avoid being sued or to avoid other consequences, including action by state worker protection agencies.
Our experienced and award-winning employment law attorneys provide the assistance you need to protect your company when you hire staff members. To find out how our legal team can help you with wage and hour rules and other employment law issues, give us a call at 858-964-2314 or contact us online to today.