California Wage & Hour Laws For Employers
One of the challenges facing employers in California is that the state employment laws offer much greater protection to employees than federal law. This means that if you are not aware of these differences, you could find yourself inadvertently breaking them. At the moment, class action suits regarding wages and working hours are one of the biggest concerns for California based businesses. This is because for lawyers they are easy to maintain and the state laws are weighted in favor of employees than in other states. For the employer however, this type of litigation is very costly. That is why any business in California should be familiar with at least the basics of wage and hour laws in the state.
California has the second highest minimum wage in all of the United States. As of 2012, this stands at $8 per hour which is slightly higher than the nationwide minimum hourly wage of $7.25. It is important to know this difference, especially if you are relocating your business from another state to California. You will need to factor in a wage increase for any employees working for minimum wage.
Thanks to Art Canebez from sell gold a local California business owner for his contribution
Employees who work over 40 hours in a single working week must be paid overtime at 1.5 times their hourly rate. This also applies to employees who work more than 8 hours in a single work day. If they work more than 12 hours (or 8 hours on Sundays) then additional hours must be paid at ‘double time’ ie. Twice the regular hourly rate.
However, employees are able to choose an alternative weekly working schedule which will allow ten working hours each day within the usual 40 hours week without them earning overtime. However, employers have to get agreement from two thirds of the work force in order to implement and there are a number of criteria which must be met when using this schedule.
Employees Based Out of State
Since 2011, both the state and federal courts have been in agreement that any employee who is usually based out of state and comes to California to work for a complete day or longer must be paid overtime while working in California. It is not clear which other laws must be applied to these workers, but most businesses err on the side of caution and offer all benefits.
Meals & Rest Breaks
Employers in California are required by law to provide meal and rest breaks to all employees. The law only requires that employees have the opportunity to take these and to know that they have the opportunity. Meal breaks are an unpaid and uninterrupted period of at least half hour during which the employee is free to leave their place of work. The break must be offered before the employee works for more than five hours. Employees must also have a short, paid break from their duties for each period of four hours that they work. If these requirements are violated, the employer must pay an additional one hour wage to the employee.
This is not a comprehensive list of the legal requirements regarding wages and hours in California, but it should give you some idea of what is expected.