Labor Laws

Minimum Wage

Employers must pay at least the minimum wage.

California Minimum Wage Effective January 1, 2017

If you are paid by piece rate, per hour, by commission, or paid by the day, your wages still have to equal at least minimum wage for all the hours you worked. Tips are separate. Your employer cannot pay you $6 per hour and use your tips to reach the minimum wage.

There are a few specific exceptions to this law which exempt outside salespersons, individuals who are the parent, spouse, or child of the employer, and certain apprentices. Additional information on minimum wage laws is available on the Labor Commissioner's website.


Employers must pay overtime.

Most workers in California must receive overtime pay of:

If a worker works seven days in a workweek, the worker must be paid:

However, overtime laws do not apply to all workers and certain workers, such as domestic workers and farm workers, are covered by different overtime laws.

You can read more about overtime laws on the Labor Commissioner's website.

garment worker
"We work long hours without breaks or overtime. One of my co-workers complained and she got fired. I didn't know retaliation was against the law. The Labor Commissioner helped me understand my rights."

Meal and Rest Breaks

Employers must provide meal and rest breaks
Most workers in California must receive an uninterrupted 30-minute unpaid meal period for every five hours worked and a paid 10-minute rest period for every four hours worked. You may be entitled to a rest break even if you work less than 4 hours. Certain workers such as domestic work and farm workers are covered by different meal and rest break laws.

Additional information on meal periods and rest periods can be found on the Labor Commissioner's website.

Hourly Wages Promised

Your employer must pay you the wages promised. The Labor Commissioner enforces all wages an employer owes, not just minimum wage. For example, if your employer promised to pay you $15 per hour and only paid you $10 per hour, you may file a wage claim for the unpaid amount of $5 per hour.

Prevailing Wage on Public Works

Employers on public works projects must pay workers prevailing wages.

The prevailing wage includes an established hourly wage, usual benefits and overtime for workers on a public works project.

Who can file a public works complaint?
Anybody including current and former employees.

Notices, Paydays and Paystubs

Your employer must inform you of how much you will be paid and when you will be paid.
When you are hired, your new employer must provide you a notice that details your rate of pay. Employers are also required to post a notice that lists the day, time and location of payment for the regular payday. Additional information on paydays and pay periods is available on the Labor Commissioner's website

You must receive a pay stub or a wage statement with your employer's name, address; your name and employee ID number or the last 4 digits of your social security number; total wages earned; all deductions; and the dates for the period you are being paid. If you are paid on a piece rate basis, the stub must also include the number of pieces you made and the applicable piece rate(s).

Bounced Paychecks

Penalties for bounced checks: If your employer writes you a check that is returned by the bank for insufficient funds, you have the right to receive additional penalties of up to 30 days' wages in addition to the amount of the check.

Deductions and Reimbursements

Your employer may not deduct wages from your pay.

Except for withholdings required by law (such as social security tax), your employer may not withhold or deduct wages from your pay. Common violations include deductions for uniforms or tools.

Additional information on allowable deductions is available on the Labor Commissioner's website.

Your employer must reimburse you for any expenses required to do your job.
You must receive reimbursement for supplies and tools needed for the job. This includes the cost of mileage if you are required to use your personal car for work (other than commuting to and from your job). However, if you earn at least twice the minimum wage, your employer can require you to provide certain hand tools customarily used in your occupation.

Reporting Time Pay

Reporting Time Pay: If you report to work expecting to work your usual schedule, but receive less than half of your usual hours, you must still be paid for at least half of your usual hours (for a minimum of at least two hours).

For example, a farm worker who reports to work for an eight-hour shift and only works for one hour must receive four hours of pay—one for the hour worked, and three as reporting time pay so that the worker receives pay for at least half of the expected eight-hour shift.

Final Wages

Final paychecks at termination: If your employer fires you, you must be given your final paycheck on your last day of work. If you are not paid on your last day, you may be owed an additional payment for each day that your employer withholds your final paycheck, for up to 30 days.

Additional information on the waiting time penalty is available on the Labor Commissioner's website.


It is illegal for employers to retaliate against workers: This means your boss cannot punish or fire you or your co-workers for taking steps to enforce your labor rights, such as reporting a labor law violation or a workplace safety hazard. If you file a wage claim or cooperate in an investigation and you were fired as a result, this may be retaliation.

Be sure to report any retaliation to the Labor Commissioner within six months of when it happened. In some cases, the Labor Commissioner can help you get back any lost wages, as well as other payments and your job.

Additional information on retaliation and discrimination can be found on the Labor Commissioner's website.