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Minimum Wage in California: Everything You Need to Know

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Minimum Wage in California: Everything You Need to Know

The minimum wage in California seems straightforward—employers simply have to pay anyone who works for them a minimum wage per hour, right? While that’s generally true, there is fine print regarding California’s minimum wage. If you’re not well-versed in the finer details of minimum wage laws in California, your employer could try to withhold wages you deserve or exploit you in other ways.

When it comes to the minimum wage in the Golden State, you need to know that:

California Has the 2nd Highest Minimum Wage, Which Means Employers in California May Try to Avoid Paying

According to the United States Department of Labor (DOL), only Washington has a higher minimum wage than California. While this comparatively high minimum wage reflects the cost of living in California, employers in California may see a minimum wage of more than $15 (many states have a minimum wage of less than $8) as unfair.

Even so, there is no excuse for employers to avoid paying the minimum wage. Employers who choose to incorporate their business in California must abide by the state’s employment laws, including paying employees a minimum wage of $15.50 (as of January 1, 2023).

Local Governments May Have Their Own Minimum Wage Laws, But the Local Minimum Wage Can Never Be Less Than the State Minimum Wage

If a municipality wants to increase its minimum wage beyond the state minimum of $15.50, it can. If a city has an unusually great cost of living, it might decide to bump its minimum wage up.

However, no municipality in California can set a minimum wage below $15.50. If an employer tries to tell you that the minimum wage in your city is less than the state’s minimum, they’re either lying or mistaken.

There Are Some Exceptions to the Minimum Wage Law—Know What These Exceptions Are So You Can Protect Yourself

There are a few exceptions to mandatory minimum wage laws, including “learners”. These employees may take time to train and learn their occupations. In these cases, an employer can pay the “learner” 85% of the minimum wage for their first 160 hours of employment.

However, once learners have completed 160 hours of work, they are entitled to receive the full minimum wage of $15.50 per hour. 

Hire an Employment Lawyer from The Law Offices of Jeannette A. Vaccaro to Help With Your Wage-Related Concerns

The vast majority of workers in California are entitled to, at the very least, the minimum wage. If you feel that an employer may have withheld wages or overtime pay, an employment lawyer from The Law Offices of Jeannette A. Vaccaro can fight for your compensation. 

If you have any other employment issues, we can also help. Contact The Law Offices of Jeannette A. Vaccaro today for your free consultation.

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