Labor Laws in California: Frequently Asked Questions

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Compared to other states, the labor laws of California are quite protective of their workers. With that said, not every worker abides by those, nor do they all know what their rights are. Since laws change all the time, workers may not be aware that some things are no longer the same way they used to be.

As a result, questions are bound to arise. To make sure your rights are respected and that you are not breaking any laws, you need to be informed. Here are the most frequently asked questions about California labor laws, along with their respective answers.

1. What Is the Minimum Wage in California?

As of January 1st, 2023, the minimum wage in California is $15.50 per hour for every employer. With that in mind, different cities in California may have different minimum wages; some higher and some lower. In Solana Beach, for instance, the minimum wage is $16.30. If your employer pays you less than that or applies the general California minimum wage for their benefit, then you are entitled to hire a Solana Beach employment lawyer.

2. Are Employers Required to Pay for My Overtime?

If you are categorized as a non-exempt employee, then your employer is required by the law to pay for your overtime. As a non-exempt employee, you are paid on the hour based on a schedule (i.e. 8 hours a day). If you work overtime, that extra hour should be one and a half times the rate you normally receive.

3. Can My Employer Change My Schedule At the Last Minute?

In California, employers are usually allowed to change the schedule of their employees at the last minute, without giving prior notice, so long as the appropriate payment is given. With that said, some cities in California made rules against this, and employers cannot change one’s schedule without prior notice. Things are also different if you are working on a collective agreement or if your contract specified certain scheduling rules. If your schedule is not respected, then you are entitled to sue.

4. Do Laws for Wage and Hours Apply to Me Even If I’m an Undocumented Worker?

According to the Public Policy Institute of California, around one out of ten workers is an undocumented immigrant. Many believe that since they are undocumented, they do

not have the right to complain about unpaid hours or unfair payment. With that said, being an undocumented immigrant does not give your employer the right to pay you less than what you are owed. You are entitled to receive what you are owed.

5. Do I Still Get Paid If I’m Fired?

Considering that California is an “at will” type of state, employers can fire you, so long as the reasons aren’t discriminatory. For instance, if they don’t like the way you are performing or your personality does not fit your job, they may decide to fire you. With that said, they are required to pay your outstanding wage up to the day that you are released from your duties.

6. How Many Rests or Meal Breaks Am I Allowed?

This depends on how long you work during the day. According to California state law, you are entitled to a 30-minute break if you work more than 6 hours a day. However, if the worker does not work more than 6 hours, they can waive that break so that they can leave home earlier. If you work more than 10 hours, then you are entitled to get a second 30-minute meal break.

7. How Many Days Can I Be Made to Work In a Row Without a Rest Day?

In California, the majority of workers get one day per week at a minimum (generally the weekend). If you work multiple jobs, then you may work for 12 days straight without a day off – but this may take complicated scheduling. If you have one employer and your rest days are not respected, then you may get assistance from the Californian authorities.

8. Do Wage and Hour Laws Apply to Me If I Work Remotely?

Yes, the laws apply to you, but it also depends on your contract and the type of worker that you are. If you are an independent contractor, then the payment you receive will be the one you accepted for the project. However, if you are employed and merely working remotely, then the employer is required by the law to cover your work-related expenses (i.e. laptop, tools necessary, etc.). You are also entitled to the correct wages on a set schedule.

The Bottom Line

Californian law may have differences compared to other states, which is why you should be informed. Always check with the state laws to see what your rights are, and make sure that your employer respects them.