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July 20, 2023

32 California Wage and Hour Law FAQs

Legally reviewed by: Jessica Anvar Stotz, JD, MBA

As a certified California attorney referral service, we hear many questions regarding California wage and hour laws. Below is a list we’ve compiled over the years to help you understand your rights and if you have a valid claim.

California Wage and Hour Law Overview hide
Employee Related Questions

Employee Related Questions

1. What is the minimum wage in California?

The minimum wage in California varies based on the employer size, with the general minimum wage set to $15.00 per hour for employers with 26 or more employees.

2. Are there different minimum wages for different cities in California?

Yes, some cities in California may have higher local minimum wage rates than the state’s standard minimum wage.

3. How often does the minimum wage change in California?

The minimum wage in California typically increases annually on January 1st.

4. What are the regular working hours for employees in California?

The standard working hours in California are typically 8 hours per day and 40 hours per week.

5. How many hours can an employee work in a day without overtime?

Employees in California can work up to 8 hours per day without earning overtime pay.

6. How many hours can an employee work in a week without overtime?

Employees can work up to 40 hours per week without earning overtime pay.

7. What is the overtime rate in California?

The overtime rate in California is one and a half times an employee’s regular hourly rate for hours worked beyond 8 in a day or 40 in a week.

8. Are there exceptions to California’s overtime laws?

Yes, there are exceptions for certain types of employees, such as salaried exempt employees or those in specific industries.

9. Are there any restrictions on meal and rest breaks for employees in California?

Yes, employers must provide meal and rest breaks to employees based on the length of their shift.

10. How long should meal breaks be in California?

Meal breaks must be at least 30 minutes for shifts of 5 hours or more, and 10-minute rest breaks for every 4 hours worked.

11. How long should rest breaks be in California?

Rest breaks should be at least 10 minutes for every 4 hours worked.

12. Can employees waive their meal and rest breaks in California?

Under certain conditions, employees may voluntarily waive their second meal break for shifts exceeding 10 hours.

13. What is reporting time pay in California?

If an employee reports to work but is not given any work or is given less than half of their usual hours, they are entitled to receive “reporting time pay.”

14. What are the rules for paying final wages to a terminated employee in California?

Final wages must be paid immediately upon termination for voluntary resignations and within 72 hours for involuntary terminations.

15. What are the rules for paying employees who work on holidays in California?

Employers must pay employees premium pay for working on holidays, typically at 1.5 or 2 times their regular rate.

16. Can an employee be classified as both exempt and non-exempt in California?

No, an employee must be classified as either exempt or non-exempt based on specific criteria.

17. What is the difference between exempt and non-exempt employees in California?

Exempt employees are generally salaried and exempt from overtime pay, while non-exempt employees are entitled to overtime pay.

18. Are there any special wage and hour laws for specific industries in California?

Yes, some industries may have specific wage and hour regulations that apply to them.

19. What are the rules for providing paid sick leave in California?

Employers are required to provide paid sick leave to employees, with specific accrual rates and usage rules.

20. What can employees do if they believe their employer has violated California wage and hour laws?

Employees can file a complaint with the California Labor Commissioner’s Office or pursue legal action to seek remedies for violations.

21. How many days can you work without a day off in California?

In California, you can work up to 12 days in a row without a day off, as long as you are not required to work more than six hours on the seventh day. However, there are some exceptions and limitations to this rule, such as:

  • If you work more than eight hours in a day or 40 hours in a week, you are entitled to overtime pay of 1.5 times your regular rate of pay3.
  • If you work more than 12 hours in a day or more than eight hours on the seventh consecutive day of work, you are entitled to double-time pay of twice your regular rate of pay3.
  • If you work for certain types of employers, such as factories, hotels, restaurants, or theaters, you are entitled to one day of rest in every seven-day period43.
  • If you work for a government entity or employee, you must file a special administrative claim within six months of the injury before you can file a lawsuit in court

22. What are common wage and hour violations in California?

Wage and Hour Violations in California Description
1. Minimum Wage Violations Paying employees less than the current minimum wage.
2. Overtime Violations Failing to pay overtime for hours worked beyond 8 in a day or 40 in a week.
3. Missed Meal and Rest Breaks Not providing required meal breaks (30 minutes for shifts of 5 hours or more) or rest breaks (10 minutes per 4 hours worked).
4. Off-the-Clock Work Requiring employees to work off-the-clock, such as before or after their scheduled shift.
5. Improper Classification Misclassifying employees as exempt from overtime when they should be non-exempt.
6. Unpaid Travel Time Not compensating employees for work-related travel time, excluding regular commuting.
7. Wage Deduction Violations Illegally deducting wages for cash shortages, breakages, or other expenses.
8. Unpaid Reporting Time Pay Failing to provide reporting time pay when employees are called to work but not given any or enough work.
9. Final Paycheck Violations Not providing final wages on time upon termination (within 72 hours for involuntary terminations).
10. Misuse of Tip Credit Using tip credits to pay employees less than the full minimum wage.
11. Misuse of Paid Time Off Forcing employees to use vacation days for sick leave or not providing paid sick leave as required.
12. Independent Contractor Misclassification Incorrectly classifying employees as independent contractors to avoid providing benefits and overtime.
13. Employee Misclassifications Misclassifying employees to avoid compliance with labor laws.
14. Unpaid Overtime for Salaried Employees Failing to pay overtime to salaried employees who do not meet the exemption criteria.
15. Improper Use of Alternative Workweek Schedules Misusing alternative workweek schedules or not following the required procedures.
16. Failure to Reimburse Business Expenses Not reimbursing employees for necessary business expenses incurred during the course of employment.
17. Unlawful Payroll Deductions Making unauthorized payroll deductions that violate labor laws.
18. Unlawful Recordkeeping Practices Failing to maintain accurate and complete records of employee hours, wages, and other information.
19. Retaliation Against Employees Retaliating against employees who assert their rights or file complaints related to wage and hour issues.
20. Failure to Provide Paystubs Not furnishing accurate and itemized paystubs to employees.

Employer Related Questions

23. When is an employer required to pay overtime in California?

Overtime is required to be paid for hours worked beyond 8 in a day or 40 in a week, and double time for hours worked beyond 12 in a day.

24. Can employers require employees to be on-call during breaks in California?

No, employers must relieve employees of all duties during their breaks.

25. What happens if an employer fails to provide meal or rest breaks in California?

Employers may be required to pay an additional hour of pay as a “premium” for each missed meal or rest break.

26. Is an employer required to pay for travel time in California?

Employers generally must compensate employees for time spent on work-related travel, except for regular commuting.

27. Can an employer deduct wages for cash shortages or breakages from an employee’s paycheck?

Generally, no, employers are prohibited from making such deductions from an employee’s paycheck.

28. Are employers required to provide vacation days or paid time off in California?

Employers are not required to provide paid vacation days, but if offered, they must be paid upon termination.

29. Can an employer require employees to work on holidays in California?

Yes, employers can require employees to work on holidays, but they must comply with applicable overtime laws.

30. Can employers require employees to work overtime or on weekends in California?

In general, employers can require employees to work overtime or on weekends, provided they meet the overtime pay requirements.

31. Can an employer require employees to use vacation days for sick leave in California?

No, employers cannot require employees to use vacation days for sick leave.

32. Can an employer use a tip credit to meet the minimum wage requirements in California?

No, employers in California cannot use a tip credit to meet the minimum wage. Employees must be paid the full minimum wage, and tips are in addition to their regular pay.

Get Connected with a Lawyer

Have a question we didn’t answer or want to see if you have a valid case? Get in touch with some of the best wage and hour attorneys in the state. As an attorney referral service, our service is free and you can contact us 24/7. (855) 997-2558

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About the Author

Jessica Anvar

California Consumer Litigation Attorney Jessica Anvar, Esq. is the Founder and Managing Partner of Lemon Law Experts California’s leading lemon law firm. She has multiple years’ worth of experience working with both state and federal lemon laws. Her practice focuses exclusively on consumer protection cases. Ms. Anvar received her J.D. from Loyola Law School. She also earned a Master of Business Administration degree from Loyola Marymount University. Jessica is very active in her local legal community and has helped thousands of clients across the state of California. She has an outstanding record as a true advocate for consumers.

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