California Payroll Laws (2024 Guide For Employers)

California payroll laws are easy to understand with access to the right information.

This article will answer the following questions about California payroll laws:

  • What is the California minimum wage?
  • How do pay periods work in California?
  • What protections do employees have in California?
  • How does sick leave work in California?
  • What are the overtime pay regulations in California?

Without wasting any time, let’s dive straight in.

Disclaimer: Despite our best efforts to provide you with accurate information on this topic at the time of writing, we cannot guarantee the accuracy of the content at the time of reading. This blog post is for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. Consult an attorney for specific guidance on California payroll laws.

Employment Laws in California

Labor Laws in California

A blend of federal and state laws, California labor regulations strive to protect workers and ensure just working conditions.

California is often at the forefront of progressive labor regulations, granting workers greater protection than federal guidelines.

Employers are required to adhere to both federal and state laws.

If a California law offers more significant protection or advantages for employees, the state law takes precedence.

Employment Law

Employment law is a broad legal field that encompasses all aspects of the employer-employee relationship.

In California, employment law covers a wide range of topics, including wage and hour laws, workplace safety regulations, and discrimination and harassment protections.

If you’re unsure about your rights or obligations under California employment law, consult an employment lawyer or a law firm specializing in employment law.

Minimum Wage in California

California’s minimum wage is higher than the federal minimum wage and varies depending on the size of the employer.

The California minimum wage is $15.50 per hour for employers with 26 or more employees and $13 per hour for employers with 25 or fewer employees.

These rates increase each year, so it’s essential to stay updated on the current minimum wage law.

California law also requires that employers pay nonexempt employees overtime pay for any hours worked beyond 8 hours in a workday, 40 hours in a workweek, or the first 8 hours worked on the seventh consecutive day of work in a workweek.

California Labor Law

California labor law covers a wide range of topics, including wage and hour regulations, meal breaks, rest breaks, sick leave, and more.

Some key aspects of California labor law that employers and employees should be aware of are:

California Family Rights Act (CFRA)

This law provides eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for certain family and medical reasons.

Meal Breaks

California employers must provide a 30-minute, unpaid meal break to nonexempt employees who work more than 5 hours in a workday.

Employers must also provide a second meal break for employees who work more than 10 hours in a workday.

Rest Breaks

Nonexempt employees are entitled to a paid 10-minute rest break for every 4 hours of work.

Exemptions to California Labor Law

Certain employees are exempt from some provisions of California labor law, such as minimum wage, overtime pay, meal breaks, and rest periods.

Common exemptions include professional employees, executive employees, and administrative employees who meet specific criteria.

To qualify for an exemption, employees must meet certain requirements, such as earning a minimum salary and performing specific job duties.

Employers must carefully review the exemption criteria to ensure that they are in compliance with state law and not improperly classifying employees as exempt from labor law protections.

California’s Layoff Regulations

California labor law also regulates layoffs and requires employers to provide employees with notice in certain situations.

The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act requires employers with 75 or more employees to provide at least 60 days’ notice before a mass layoff, relocation, or termination of operations affecting 50 or more employees.

Employers who fail to provide the required notice may be liable for back pay and benefits for each affected employee, as well as additional penalties under state law.

California Sick Leave & Family Leave

California law mandates that employers provide sick leave to employees, including part-time and temporary workers.

Employees accrue a minimum of 1 hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to a total of 48 hours or 6 days in a calendar year.

Employees can use sick leave for their own illness, to care for a family member, or for other specified reasons.

The California Family Rights Act (CFRA) provides eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for certain family and medical reasons, such as the birth or adoption of a child, caring for a family member with a serious health condition, or the employee’s own serious health condition.

Final Paycheck & Wage Penalties

California labor law requires employers to provide employees with their final paycheck on their last day of employment or within 72 hours of the employee’s termination, depending on the circumstances.

The final paycheck must include payment for all hours worked, including overtime, as well as any unused vacation time or paid time off.

Employers are also required to provide employees with an itemized pay stub that includes details such as the employee’s gross wages, deductions, hours worked, and hourly rate.

Failure to provide accurate pay stubs can result in penalties under California labor law.

Payroll Recordkeeping & Compliance

California employers must maintain accurate payroll records for all employees, including information such as the employee’s name, social security number, hours worked, total wages paid, and any deductions made.

Workplace Safety & Health Regulations in California

The safety and health of employees in California are regulated by the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA). Cal/OSHA enforces state and federal standards to protect workers from hazards, injuries, and illnesses in the workplace.

Employers must provide a safe and healthy work environment and comply with various requirements, such as posting safety posters, providing personal protective equipment, and training employees on safety and health procedures.

In addition to general workplace safety regulations, Cal/OSHA also enforces industry-specific safety standards, such as those related to construction, agriculture, and healthcare.

Employers should consult with an employment lawyer or law firm to ensure compliance with all relevant safety and health regulations in their industry.

Posting Requirements for California Employers

California labor law requires employers to post various notices and posters in the workplace to inform employees of their rights and protections under state and federal law.

These notices include information on minimum wage, meal breaks, rest periods, workers’ compensation, family and medical leave, and anti-discrimination laws.

Employers must ensure that these notices are posted in a conspicuous location in the workplace, such as a break room or other common area, where employees can easily access and read them. Failure to post the required notices can result in penalties and fines under state and federal law.

Harassment Prevention Training Requirements

California law requires employers with five or more employees to provide sexual harassment prevention training to all employees.

Supervisors must receive at least two hours of training, while non-supervisory employees must receive at least one hour of training.

This training must be provided within six months of hire or promotion and must be repeated every two years.

The training should cover topics such as the definition of harassment, the rights and responsibilities of employees and supervisors, the complaint process, and strategies for preventing harassment in the workplace.

Employers should consult with an employment lawyer or law firm to ensure that their harassment prevention training program complies with California law.

Handling Employee Complaints & Disputes

Employers should have a clear and effective process in place for handling employee complaints and disputes related to California labor law.

This includes providing employees with information on how to file a complaint with the appropriate government agency, such as the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) for discrimination complaints.

Family & Medical Leave in California

California employees are entitled to family and medical leave under both state and federal law.

The California Family Rights Act (CFRA) provides eligible employees with up to 12 workweeks of unpaid leave within a 12-month period for specific family and medical reasons, such as the birth of a child, the adoption of a child, or a serious health condition affecting the employee or a family member.

The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides similar leave protections.

However, there are some differences between the CFRA and FMLA, such as the definition of a “family member” and the leave entitlement for pregnancy-related disabilities.

California employers with 5 or more employees must provide family and medical leave to eligible employees under the CFRA, while federal law applies to employers with 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius.

Employers must be aware of their obligations under both state and federal law and ensure that their leave policies are compliant with these regulations.

Pay Equity and Anti-Discrimination Laws in California

California law prohibits employers from paying employees at a lower wage rate than employees of the opposite sex, another race, or another ethnicity for substantially similar work.

Employers must be able to justify any pay differences based on factors such as seniority, merit, education, or other bona fide factors unrelated to sex, race, or ethnicity.

Labor Code Section and the Role of the Labor Commissioner

California Labor Code Section 1171.5 outlines the protections and rights of employees in the state, establishing regulations on wages, working conditions, and various labor standards.

The California Labor Commissioner’s Office, also known as the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE), is responsible for enforcing the provisions outlined in the Labor Code, ensuring that California employers adhere to the laws and that employees’ rights are protected.

Notice Requirements for Changes in Work Schedules

Under California labor law, employers are required to provide employees with reasonable notice of any changes to their work schedules.

In certain industries, such as retail and food service, employers must provide at least 24 hours’ notice of any changes to an employee’s schedule.

However, there are some exceptions to this rule, such as in cases of natural disasters or other unforeseen emergencies.

Total Hours & Pay Scale Regulations

California labor law requires that nonexempt employees be paid overtime for any hours worked beyond 8 hours in a workday or 40 hours in a workweek.

The pay scale for overtime hours is generally 1.5 times the employee’s regular rate of pay for the first 4 hours of overtime, and 2 times the regular rate for any additional overtime hours.

Payroll Period & Piece Rate Compensation

In California, employers are required to establish a regular payroll period, which can be weekly, biweekly, or semi-monthly.

Employers must pay employees within a certain number of days following the end of the payroll period, depending on the frequency of the payroll.

Piece rate compensation is a method of payment based on the number of items or tasks completed by an employee, rather than the number of hours worked.

California labor law requires that piece rate employees be paid at least the equivalent of the minimum wage for all hours worked, as well as any overtime pay that may be due.

Employee’s Wages, Rights, & Final Wages

Upon termination or resignation, employees are entitled to receive their final wages, which include all earned and unpaid wages, overtime pay, and any unused vacation time or paid time off.

Employers must provide the employee’s final paycheck on their last day of work if the employee is terminated, or within 72 hours if the employee resigns without giving notice.

California Payroll Laws (Closing Thoughts)

We hope this guide has provided you with some useful insights into Nevada payroll laws. With a solid understanding of minimum wage, hour laws, overtime pay, and other labor law requirements, employers can avoid legal headaches and pour their attention into productivity and performance.

Disclaimer: Not Legal Advice

This blog post provides a general overview of California labor laws but does not constitute legal advice. Laws and regulations are subject to change, and there may be additional requirements or exemptions that apply to specific situations. Employers and employees should consult a qualified labor law attorney for advice on their specific circumstances.

If you have any questions about your rights or obligations as an employer or employee in California, it is essential to consult with a labor law attorney to receive accurate information and guidance tailored to your situation. By seeking professional legal advice, you can ensure that you are taking the appropriate steps to comply with labor laws and protect your rights.

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