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Minimum wages in California

On Behalf of | Oct 11, 2021 | Wage & Hour Laws

It seems that the news has stories about labor shortages and pay disparities just about every night. We see the signs, “Now Hiring,” everywhere across the state, from major cities, like Los Angeles, to tiny suburbs. And, with minimum wage rates set differently throughout the country, sometimes, we may forget that California sets its own minimums as well.

What is the minimum wage?

Starting at the beginning of this year, our state’s minimum wage has increased to $14 an hour. This is for employers with 26 or more employees. For those with less, the minimum wage is $13 an hour, though, it is hard to imagine smaller employers being able to stay competitive not paying, at least, $14. This amount goes up every year through 2023, which is mandated by state law.

As such, if an employer says that a $1 raise was an annual performance-based raise, it really was not. And, it is okay to ask for more than the state mandated minimum, especially as inflation is up to 6.2%, meaning anything less than a 6.2% raise was a pay cut as the value of what we earn (i.e., the value of the U.S. dollar) is less now than it was last year.

Are these rates for everyone in California?

Mostly. Local municipalities are free to set their minimum wages higher than the California minimum wage. Therefore, it is a good idea to do a quick Google search or call a local Woodland Hills attorney to figure out if one’s specific city has a higher minimum wage.

What if my employment contract is for less than minimum wage?

According to California Civil Code Sections 1668 and 3513, it does not matter. An employee cannot agree to work for less than minimum wage. It cannot be waived by collective bargaining agreements or any other type of contract or agreement. And, there is no distinction between a minor or an adult, so just because someone is under 18 does not mean that the employer can pay less than minimum wage.

What about waitstaff?

Unlike many other states, in our state, employers cannot use tips to offset the minimum wage. Generally, Los Angeles, California, employers must pay the minimum wage, regardless of the position. And, if employers fail to meet this minimum, they have likely engaged in illegal wage theft, which is actionable.