California's New Minimum Wage for 2024 is $16.00/hour

Posted by Catherine Chukwueke | Jan 08, 2024

As of January 1, 2024, California has implemented an increase in its minimum wage, impacting a broad spectrum of industries and workers across the state. The new minimum wage is $16.00 per hour. However, it is important to note that there are variations for specific sectors, such as Fast Food Restaurants and Healthcare Facilities.

Key Highlights:

Standard Minimum Wage: The minimum wage is now $16.00 per hour, effective from the beginning of 2024. This rate applies to a wide range of businesses and industries.

Sector-Specific Adjustments:

    • Fast Food Restaurants: For employers in the fast-food industry, a higher minimum wage takes effect on April 1, 2024. This targeted adjustment aims to address the unique dynamics of the fast-food sector.
    • Healthcare Facilities: Similarly, healthcare facility employers will experience a higher minimum wage, starting June 1, 2024. This recognizes the specialized nature of work in healthcare.

Local Variances: While the state has set a minimum wage standard, some cities and counties in California may have higher minimum wages. Employers should be aware of and adhere to local regulations. The UC Berkeley website maintains a list of city and county minimum wages.

Special Considerations for Certain Occupations:

    • Sheepherders and Goat Herders: The minimum monthly salary for these roles sees an increase, with specific requirements for employers based on the number of employees they have.

Exemptions and Exceptions:

    • Exempt Categories: Certain individuals, like outside salespersons, immediate family members of the employer, and apprentices under the State Division of Apprenticeship Standards, are exempt from the minimum wage law.
    • Learners: Learners, irrespective of age, may be paid 85% of the minimum wage during their initial 160 hours of employment in roles where they lack relevant experience.

Special Provisions for Disabled Workers: Individuals with mental or physical disabilities, as well as nonprofit organizations employing disabled workers, have exceptions with specific conditions.

Duration of Special Licenses: Organizations with licenses allowing employment at a wage less than the legal minimum have this provision until January 1, 2025.

Agreement to Work for Less: An essential point to note is that no agreement between the employer and employee can waive the minimum wage requirement. This stipulation underscores the obligation of employers to adhere to the mandated minimum wage, regardless of any mutual agreements.

Equal Minimum Wage for Adults and Minors: The principle of equity prevails in California's minimum wage laws, extending the same entitlement to both adult and minor employees. There is no distinction based on age when it comes to payment of the minimum wage.

Single Employee Requirement: Even if an employer has only one employee, compliance with minimum wage regulations is mandatory. This holds true unless the specific circumstances warrant an exemption, emphasizing the universality of minimum wage standards.

Tip Credits: Employers cannot utilize tips received by employees as a credit toward meeting the minimum wage obligation. This ensures that employees receive the full benefit of the mandated minimum wage, irrespective of tip earnings.

Recourse for Non-Payment: In instances where workers do not receive the stipulated minimum wage, there are avenues for recourse. Workers have the option to file a wage claim with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement. Additionally, they can pursue legal action to recover lost wages, including waiting time penalties for any delays.

As the employment landscape in California undergoes these nuanced changes, it is imperative for both employers and workers to remain well-informed and ensure unwavering compliance with the updated minimum wage laws. 

If you have any questions regarding your company's policies or need guidance on California employment law, contact the Law Office of Catherine Chukwueke and schedule a consultation. We are here to help you navigate the complexities of employment law with confidence.

Disclaimer: This article has been prepared and published for informational purposes only and is not offered, nor should be construed, as legal advice. 

About the Author

Catherine Chukwueke

Catherine (“Cathy”) Chukwueke is the Owner and Principal Attorney of the Law Office of Catherine Chukwueke, a law firm focusing on labor and employment matters and workplace investigations. Ms. Chukwueke is passionate about helping people who have been mistreated in the workplace.

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