Although there are some exceptions, almost all employees in California must be paid the minimum wage as required by state law. Effective January 1, 2017, the minimum wage for all industries will be increased yearly. From January 1, 2017, to January 1, 2022, the minimum wage will increase for employers employing 26 or more employees. This increase will be delayed one year for employers employing 25 or fewer employees, from January 1, 2018, to January 1, 2023. The scheduled increases may be temporarily suspended by the Governor, based on certain determinations. (Please see the chart below for the complete schedule of rate increases).
There are some employees who are exempt from the minimum wage law, such as outside salespersons, individuals who are the parent, spouse, or child of the employer, and apprentices regularly indentured under the State Division of Apprenticeship Standards.
Schedule for California Minimum Wage rate 2017-2023.
Minimum Wage for Employers with 25 Employees or Less
Minimum Wage for Employers with 26 Employees or More
January 1, 2017
January 1, 2018
January 1, 2019
January 1, 2020
January 1, 2021
January 1, 2022
January 1, 2023
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the minimum wage?
Effective January 1, 2018, the minimum wage for all industries was $11 per hour for employers with 26 or more employees and $10.50 per hour for employers with 25 or fewer employees. On January 1, 2019, the minimum wage increased to $12 per hour for employers with 26 or more employees and $11 per hour for employees with 25 or fewer employees. The minimum wage must be adjusted on a yearly basis through 2023 according to the pre-set schedule shown above.
What is the difference between the local, state and federal minimum wage?
Most employers in California are subject to both the federal and state minimum wage laws. Also, local entities (cities and counties) are allowed to enact minimum wage rates and several cities have recently adopted ordinances which establish a higher minimum wage rate for employees working within their local jurisdiction. The effect of this multiple coverage by different government sources is that when there are conflicting requirements in the laws, the employer must follow the stricter standard; that is, the one that is the most beneficial to the employee. Thus, since California’s current law requires a higher minimum wage rate than does the federal law, all employers in California who are subject to both laws must pay the state minimum wage rate unless their employees are exempt under California law. Similarly, if a local entity (city or county) has adopted a higher minimum wage, employees must be paid the local wage where it is higher than the state or federal minimum wage rates.
May an employee agree to work for less than the minimum wage?
No. The minimum wage is an obligation of the employer and cannot be waived by any agreement, including union agreements.
Is the minimum wage the same for both adult and minor employees?
Yes. There is no distinction made between adults and minors when it comes to payment of the minimum wage.
I work in a restaurant as a waitperson. Can my employer use my tips as a credit toward its obligation to pay me the minimum wage?
No. An employer may not use an employee’s tips as a credit toward its obligation to pay the minimum wage.
What can I do if my employer doesn't pay me at least the minimum wage?
You can file a lawsuit against your employer to recover the lost wages. Additionally, if you no longer work for this employer, you can bring a claim for waiting time penalties.
What can I do if my employer retaliates against me because I questioned him about not being paid the minimum wage?
If your employer discriminates or retaliates against you in any manner whatsoever, for example, he fires you because you asked him why you weren’t being paid the minimum wage, you can file a lawsuit against your employer.