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The following are some basic wage and labor requirements for California. These laws enforced by California's Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, also known as the State Labor Commissioner.
Required wage notice   Every employer must post a wage order notice for their industry. It contains the specific requirements regarding wages, overtime, breaks and other labor standards for your industry. Click below for the poster, or visit
Minimum wage   California's minimum wage is currently $11.00 for employers with 26 or more employees; $10.50 for smaller businesses. The rates will increase on 1/1/19 to $11.50 for large employers; $11.00 for small employers. The law allows employers to pay minors and learners 85% of the prevailing minimum wage. In California, tip income cannot be used as part of minimum wage.

Many California cities have higher minimum wage levels. Click here for more information.
Overtime pay   In most industries, regulations require
  • Overtime for work in excess of 8 hours per day or 40 hours per week.
  • Typically a worker must be paid 1.5 times normal pay for the first four hours of overtime and 2 times normal pay for additional hours.
  • If an employee works 7 days in a row, overtime must be paid for the 7th day at 1 1/2 times normal pay for the first eight hours, two times for additional hours.
What that means: If someone works 10 hours one day and 3 hours for four days, (s)he must be paid two hours overtime.
Exceptions to overtime rules   No overtime is required for:
  • On-site construction
  • For people who earn $1150 or more per month in an administrative, executive or professional capacity.
Flex-time and 4-day work weeks with more than 8-hour shifts are allowed these industries:
  • Manufacturing
  • Public housekeeping
  • Professional
  • Technical
  • Clerical
  • Mechanical
These exceptions are very specific and require secret ballot votes and written documentation. These requirements are described on the industry's wage order notice.
More about "exempt" To be exempt from overtime, employees must work in an administrative, executive or professional capacity. The Labor Commission and courts use these criteria:

  • Administrative employees assist management in staff functions and are not involved in production. Their work requires discretion and independent judgment. The following jobs are NOT considered exempt because they do not involve independent judgment: bank tellers, bookkeepers, private secretaries, shipping and receiving clerks.
  • Executive employees manage and supervise two or more people. They must spend most of their time:

    • Interviewing, selecting and training employees.
    • Setting and adjusting pay rates and work hours.
    • Keeping records of and evaluating subordinates' performance.
    • Handling employee complaints.
    • Disciplining employees
    • Determining work techniques and flow and distribution of work and materials
  • Professionals require scientific or specialized study and the employee's work must require the consistent exercise of discretion and judgment.
Source: Employees not exempt from Fair Labor Standards Act Litigation,
Rest and meal breaks   Employees must be given a 10 minute rest break for every 4 hours of work and a 30 minute meal break for any shift of 6 hours or more.
Wages when discharging an employee   Employeees must be paid all wages due and accrued vacation pay (if you provide paid vacation benefits) on the date of discharge or 72 hours after quitting without notice.
Employee licenses  You must get a license from the Division of Labor Standards if you hire:
  • Farm labor
  • Garment workers
  • Industrial homeworkers (people who assemble products at home)
  • Athletes
  • Produce loaders
  • Have a talent agency
  • Operate a sheltered workshop for handicapped people
More information   In addition to the wage order notices that must be posted by all businesses, the Division of Labor Standards Office publishes the following free publications:
  • Laws Relating to Payment of Wages
  • Policies and Procedures for Wage Claims Processing (what the Labor Standards Office does when it receives a complaint about unpaid wages)
Questions?   For questions, visit click here or call (415)703-5070.