Every state has laws designed to ensure a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s pay. Not surprising, every state also has employers who will break the rules, causing employees to suffer economic hardship in the quest for the almighty dollar.
Taking advantage of workers is illegal and unethical. This is why California employment law is geared toward protecting workers and penalizing employers who choose to exert their power over their employees for profit. Employment should be an equitable relationship, yet workers often feel they have no choice when it comes to accepting the offered pay rate or working excessive hours versus losing their job.
How does the Fair Labor Standards Act help me?
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a federal regulation that governs the minimum hourly rate that private employers as well as government entities of each level are required to pay employees. It also sets minimum standards for overtime pay and child labor. Any deviation from these rules qualifies as a violation of state and/or federal law and may provide you grounds to file an employment law claim.
Under the California Labor Code, an employee has three years to bring a claim against his or her employer just for a wage violation. If that ruling is found in favor of the employee, the employer could be required to pay twice the unpaid wages, or triple the amount if it remains unpaid within 10 days of the decision.
California is stepping up minimum wage
The federal minimum wage has been set at $7.25 per hour for up to a 40-hour work week since July 24, 2009. While some states fall back on the federal hourly rate for minimum wage, California has improved that rate to help offset our increased cost of living over other states.
As of January 1, 2020, The Golden State’s minimum wage requirements mandate that:
- Businesses employing 26 or more people pay $13.00 per hour
- Small businesses employing 25 or less people pay $12.00 per hour
In January of 2021, the state minimum wage is anticipated to increase to $14.00 per hour.
How is overtime calculated in California?
Nearly half the states in the country rely on federal overtime regulations, which dictate how overtime pay is calculated if state law is silent on the matter. California, however, adds an interesting twist to help employees get a jumpstart on overtime pay. While it is fairly typical to determine overtime wages based on hours worked per week, California’s standard calculation bases it on hours worked per day.
Here is what to expect:
- An employee should receive time and a half of his/her regular hourly rate for working any hours over 8 but below 12 in a single workday. So an employee making $12.00 per hour who puts in a 10-hour day would receive $96.00 for the first 8 hours and an additional $36 for the next two hours worked that day regardless of whether he/she works 40 hours that week.
- An employee should receive double his/her regular hourly rate for any hours exceeding 12 in a single day. In this instance, an employee who works a 16-hour day would receive the same pay above plus $96.00 for the last 4 hours worked that day at double time.
- An employee should also receive double his/her hourly rate for all hours worked above 8 on their seventh consecutive day of work.
There is a minor exception to these rules for agricultural workers who work for companies employing 26 or more employees. As of January 1, 2020, they must receive time and a half of their regular pay rate for working anything over 9 hours in a single workday or for all hours exceeding 50 in any work week.
Labor laws intended to prevent exploitation of working children
California considers you a minor for employment purposes if you are under the age of 18 and are supposed to attend school, you are under six years of age, or you are an emancipated minor.
Because California is an entertainment business capitol, laws have been established specific to the entertainment industry when it comes to children. A work permit is required for anyone between the ages of 15 days and 18 years to work in entertainment. Employers in this industry must also obtain permits to employ these vulnerable members of society regardless what area of the industry a child’s talents are being utilized.
While there is an array of regulations related to California child labor, generally, child employees are required to be paid at the same wage rate as adult employees. If the child is of legal age to work 48 hours in a single week, he or she is required to be paid the applicable overtime rate commensurate with what an adult counterpart would be paid.
Wage and hour violations can become pretty intertwined when it comes to employers breaking the law. You kept your end of the deal by showing up to do your job, so you deserve to be properly paid at the correct rate for every hour you worked.
If your employer owes you wages or has required you work more than permitted, seek the experienced legal guidance of Los Angeles employment law attorneys McNicholas & McNicholas, LLP. Schedule your free case evaluation in our office by calling 310-474-1582, or we invite you to reach out to us through our contact page.