While federal law provides basic rights to all employees, state laws grant individuals additional workplace rights. Federal law provides basic protections, and in many cases, California offers superior legal protections. California’s wage and hour laws are among the most protective in the nation and place additional requirements on employers above and beyond federal laws.
The California Labor Code also varies from the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which means that while an employer might be compliant with federal law, they may not be compliant with California law. The California Labor Code provides increased protection for workers by codifying into the law the ability for workers to band together in class action lawsuits.
Do you work in California and have any of the following:
When businesses need to cut costs, they usually start at their labor expenses. Unfortunately, some California businesses end up violating California laws by classifying employees as exempt from overtime, not permitting meal and rest breaks, and denying vacation pay or other benefits to which they are entitled.
In California, there are specific rules about who is eligible for overtime and who is not. By law, only certain employees are exempt from overtime pay. While mangers are traditionally exempt from overtime pay, sometimes it is not always clear as to who is a worker and who is a manager. According to California law,an employee who spends half their workday doing the same work as their juniors is not a manager and therefore not exempt from overtime pay. Companies will often “promote” a worker to a manager position so they can classify them as exempt, even though their duties don’t change.
Common California Wage and Hour Law Violations:
- Meal and rest breaks: No employer can require an employee to work during any meal or rest period. If an employee works more than 5 hours per day, the employer must provide a 30-minute meal period. Employees are also entitled to a ten-minute break for every four hours of work.
- Minimum wages: California minimum wage is higher than federal minimum wage. The minimum wage in California is currently $8.00 per hour, and is scheduled to increase to $9.00 per hour effective July 2014. In San Francisco, the minimum wage just increased to $10.74 per hour.
- Overtime pay: In California, employers must pay overtime after eight hours a day or 40 hours a week.
- Reimbursement of business expenses: Workers in California must be reimbursed for expenses they incur as part of their jobs, such as travel expenses, the purchase of uniforms, cell phone usage, entertainment costs, etc.
- Unpaid wages: Employees must be paid wages in a timely manner, including commissions and bonuses
- Vacation: California employer cannot have a “use it or lose it” plan where vacation days are lost without compensation if not used by year end.
California law also prohibits retaliation against an employee who inquires about unpaid wages or files a complaint about an employer’s violation of the wage and hour laws.
California’s labor laws set standards concerning payment of wages, overtime, maximum work hours, vacation pay, and more. The Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC) issues wage orders that regulate various labor conditions, including safety, health, and welfare. Wage Orders are specific to particular industries and occupations, and can be found under Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations (CCR) Sections 11000-11150.
If you believe that your claim may fall under California state labor laws, and that you have been denied wages or other employment benefits, please contact us immediately. We can help you.