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Wage and Hour Law

Most employees are aware of the bare minimums of wage and hour law.  California's minimum wage per hour is $10.00 per hour and must be paid one and one-half the employees regular hourly wage for working more than eight (8) hours and less than twelve (12) hours in a workday.  For convenience, below are the wage and hour situations that most commonly arise.

Overtime Pay

Under California law, employers must pay employees at a rate of one and one-half the employee's regular hourly wage for working more than eight and less than twelve hours in a workday or eight hours on the seventh consecutive workday of the workweek. Employers must pay double the employee's regular hourly wage for working more than twelve hours a day or more than eight hours on the seventh consecutive workday of the workweek.

Some employees are exempt from the overtime requirement. Employees earning more than $37,400 per year on a salary basis and spending more than half of their time engaged in administrative, professional, executive, computer professional, agricultural, motor carrier or outsides sales activities are exempt from the overtime requirement. On January 1, 2016, the overtime threshold will increase to $41,600 per year. 

Meal and Rest Periods

Under California law, nonexempt employees are entitled to a thirty minute meal break within the first five hours of work. Additionally, nonexempt employees must receive at least a ten-minute rest period for each four hours of work. Additional information on California meal and rest break requirements is available at http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/FAQ_MealPeriods.htm and http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/FAQ_RestPeriods.htm.

In California there are penalties for underpayment of wages, paying wages with insufficient funds, failure to provide meal or rest breaks, failure to provide one day's rest in seven, and failure to pay wages timely upon termination. Additionally, there are penalties for unlawful deductions from wages.

Employee Tips

The basic rule of tips is that they belong to employees, not the employer. Employees can not be required to give their tips or any part of them to the company, except as part of a valid tip pooling arrangement, and even then, the tip pool must be divided only among certain other employees. The employer can't be part of the pool.

Only employees who regularly receive tips can be part of the pool. Employees can't be required to share their tips with employees who don't usually receive their own tips, like dishwashers or cooks. And no employers are allowed in the pool: Tips from a tip pool can't go to employers or, in some states, managers or supervisors.