Minimum Wage - Basics. The basic law is that you must be paid at least the minimum wage for work you perform for your employer.
Minimum Wage - Federal. Federal minimum wage is currently $7.25 per hour. California minimum wage laws are designed to be more protective than federal minimum wage laws.
Minimum Wage - California. As of January 1, 2024, the minimum wage in California is $16.00 per hour for all employers, up from $15.50 per hour in 2023. Please note there are some exceptions that apply to the minimum wage laws. An employer may also in some cases take a credit for meals or lodging in specific amounts as provided by statute but only by mutual agreement between the employer and employee, which must be written and voluntary.
Certain local entities such as cities or counties may have higher minimum wages than what is provided by California law. UC Berkeley's Labor Center keeps an inventory of minimum wage rates available here: https://laborcenter.berkeley.edu/inventory-of-us-city-and-county-minimum-wage-ordinances/#s-2.
Minimum Wage - Fast Food Workers. Effective April 1, 2024, the Fast Food Accountability and Standards Recovery Act (AB 1228, also known as the "FAST Recovery Act") will require employers to pay fast food workers $20.00 per hour.
Minimum Wage - Garment Workers. Effective January 1, 2022, the Garment Workers Protection Act requires that garment workers (employees engaged in garment manufacturing) be paid minimum wage unless they are covered by a collective bargaining agreement. Payment by piece-rate is no longer allowed. Liability for violations of this law can be brought against contractors, manufacturers, and brand guarantors.
Piece Rate - California Law. Under certain circumstances, employees may be paid on a "piece rate" basis but must nonetheless be paid at least minimum wage for each hour worked--i.e., an employer may not "average" money earned on a piece rate basis to avoid paying at least minimum wage for each hour worked.
Tips. Labor Code section 351 makes clear that tips or "gratuity" belong to the employee, not the employer. Tips paid by credit cards must be paid to the employee no later than the day that follows the date of the credit card payment. Tips may be "pooled" (i.e., shared) with other employees who participate in a "chain of service" (e.g., bartenders, cooks, kitchen staff). California law prohibits employers from crediting tips toward minimum wage obligations.