Legal Guides

The Basics Of Employment And Labor Laws In California

Every state in America has unique laws governing employment and labor. Because of this, it can be difficult to understand the laws that govern your state and learn about your rights as an employer.

California has a comprehensive set of laws that were enacted to protect employers in the workplace. These laws cover everything from workplace conditions, minimum wages, acceptable work hours, flexible work arrangements, and ending an employment contract.

Whether you’re a resident of Los Angeles, San Francisco, or Riverside, CA, you might be curious to learn more about the employment and labor laws that apply to you.

In this article, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide that covers all of the basics you need to know.

Minimum Wage Laws in California

California’s minimum wage works on a tiered system, depending on the size of the employer. However, the current overall minimum wage sits at $15.50 per hour. There are proposals to increase the hourly minimum wage to $18 per hour in November 2024.

One can find the applicable minimum wage rates in the IWC wage orders. It has been made effective from 1 January 2023. The sheepherders, as well as goat herders, receive a monthly wage as mandated by the IWC Wage Order. The employer does not offset salaries paid to both of them. Here’s a brief breakdown to make you understand better:


Employers with less than 25 employees with their wages

Employers having more than 25 employees, along with their wages

1 January 2017

$10 per hour


1 January 2018

$10.50 for every hour

$11 for each hour

1 January 2019

$11 per hour


1 January 2020


$13 for each hour

1 January 2021

$13 for every hour

$14 per hour

1 January 2022

$14 for each hour

$15 per hour

1 January 2023


$15.50 for each hour

Overtime Laws in California

Employees are entitled to overtime pay for the hours they work in addition to their contracted hours or any hours above 40 hours per week. As with the payments for standard, contracted hours, the exact hourly payment for overtime varies.

It is true that Californian law seeks employers to pay their employees for overtime. It doesn’t matter whether or not they are authorized, employees must receive a payment. Moreover, it should be at the rate of one-half or one times the regular payment rate of the employer. 

In the state, as per the Californian Labor Code Section 510, there are two methods of calculating overtime:

  • After completion of 8 hours of work each day.
  • More than 40 hours of work each week. 

Hence, if you work 9 hours or more on any weekday, you are liable to claim your overtime pay.

Rest Break Laws in California

Rest Break Laws

As an employee in California, you are entitled to regular rest breaks, which are calculated on the total duration of your work shifts. More specifically, by law, you must take a 10-minute rest break for every four hours of work and a 30-minute rest break on five-hour shifts.

If your employer refuses to provide adequate rest breaks during your shifts, you might be entitled to compensation. Speak to an employment lawyer if you would like to make a claim against your employer for failing to provide rest breaks.

Related: Employment Law Settlement Agreements: What Every Employee Should Know

Anti-Discrimination Laws in California

California has stringent laws in place to protect workers from discrimination. Anti-discrimination laws, such as The Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), protect employees based on race, gender, sexuality, religion, ethnicity, disabilities, pregnancy, and military status.

It’s not just employers who must abide by anti-discrimination laws in the workplace. Employees must also act in non-discriminatory ways and treat everybody fairly and equally when at work.

Family And Medical Leave Laws In California

Under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA), employees have the right to opt for 12 weeks of unpaid leave within a period of 12 months. It could be for personal medical reasons or family-related issues. Employees on family as well as medical leave may receive a portion of their usual wage payments during their time off.

Qualifying reasons for taking leave under FMLA include caring for a seriously ill child, caring for an elderly parent or grandparent, childbirth, and child adoption. To be eligible to opt for FMLA in California, you must have been working for your employer for over a year and accumulated 1250 hours of service, and your employer must have at least five employees.

Concluding Words

Finally, the Cal-WARN, or California Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, plays an integral role here. It offers both employees and their respective families time to gear up for a potential job loss. Along with this, there is a plethora of employment and labor-related laws in the state. 

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Nilanjana Basu
Nilanjana is a lawyer with a flair for writing. She has a certification in American Laws from Penn Law (Pennsylvania University). Along with this, she has been known to write legal articles that allow the audience to know about American laws and regulations at ease.

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