Employment Laws: California

I am a believer in employees knowing what the employment laws are in their state. The biggest reason is because there are so many misconceptions that employees have about what their rights are. If an employee is properly informed, then they will know what they should expect from their employer. Since I reside in CA, and am most familiar with CA employment laws, I’m starting here. Here are a few of the employment laws in California.

In California, the minimum wage is $10 per hour, as of Jan 1, 2016, which is more than the Federal minimum wage. According to USA Today, this rate will be going up to $15 per hour by 2022.

It is an at-will state, which means that employers and employees may end employment for any or no reason, as long as the employer is not discriminating against the employee.

It is not a right-to-work state, which means that if a labor union is formed, the employee can be forced to join the union or leave employment.

Compensation Reimbursement

Meal Periods: In California, employees are entitled to no less than a 30 minute unpaid meal period when working more than 5 hours consecutively. If the employee is prevented from being relieved of all work duties, and an on-the-job meal period agreement is signed, the employee must be paid for the meal period. A 10 minute rest period is required for non-exempt employees for every four hours they work, except employees who work for less than three and one-half hours in a day.

Sick/Holiday Pay: Employers in California are not required to provide either sick or holiday pay. However, if the employer has created a policy for either they must abide by their policies.

Jury Duty/Voting Pay: Employers are not required to provide jury duty pay; however, the employee cannot be discharged or otherwise penalized for taking time off to serve on a jury. Employees have the right to use personal leave, if available. Employers are required to provide paid time off to vote, up to two hours, either before or after the employee’s shift. However, the employee must give the employer a minimum of three days notice of his or her intent to vote.


Final Pay

If an employee quits his or her job and has given at least 72 hours notice of intent to quit, the final payment is due at the time the employee quits. If the employee quits with no, or gives less than 72 hours notice, the employer has 72 hours to give the employee the final check. If the check is mailed, then the date the check is mailed is considered the payment date.

If an employee is terminated the employer is required to give the final paycheck at the time of termination.

Deductions from Wages

  • An employer may not withhold or deduct wages from final paycheck, unless:
  • Required or empowered by state or federal law
  • Authorized in writing by employee to cover insurance premiums, benefit plan contributions, health, welfare, or pension contributions authorized by wage agreement

Employers may not deduct for:

  • Any portion of an employee’s gratuities
  • The cost of any photograph required by the employer
  • The cost of a bond required by the employer
  • The cost of a uniform that is required by an employer (unless employee has consented in writing to the deduction if the uniform is not returned)
  • The cost of tools or equipment to be used to perform the job (except for employees who earn two times the minimum wage)
  • The cost of any pre-employment medical or physical exam as a condition of employment
  • Any final balloon payments due to a company by the employee (even if authorized in writing)
  • Any unidentified returns from commission sales
  • Cash shortage, breakage/loss of property, dishonored checks (unless it can be shown that the shortage or breakage/loss of property was caused by a dishonest or willful act, or by gross negligence of the employee).

Employee only

Overtime Pay

Employees are entitled to 1 ½ times the normal rate of pay of any hours worked over 40 hours per week OR 8 hours per day. This is up to the discretion of the employer and the policies the employer implements. The employee is also entitled to two times the normal rate of pay for anything over 12 hours per day and for all hours worked over 8 hours on the seventh day of work in a work week.

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