Wage and Hour

Unpaid Minimum Wages

As of July 1, 2014, the minimum wage in California is $9.00 per hour.  This means that, subject to limited exceptions, employees must be paid at least $9.00 per hour for every hour worked.  This minimum wage will increase to $10.00 per hour in January 2016.  Minimum wage is higher in some counties.  For example, in San Francisco, employees must be paid a minimum of $11.05 per hour.

When employees are not paid by the hour, but by commission or piece rate, the employee must still effectively be paid the minimum wage for each hour worked.  Meals or lodging may not be credited against the minimum wage without a voluntary written agreement between the employer and the employee.

This minimum wage requirement applies even when employees work off-the-clock or do not report all their hours worked.

If you believe, you are not being paid the minimum wage for all hours worked, you should contact an attorney.


In California, employers must pay all non-exempt employees overtime at a rate of one and a half times the employee’s regular rate of pay for: (1) each hour worked over eight in a single workday; (2) each hour worked over forty in a single workweek, and (3) the first eight hours worked on the seventh day of work in any workweek.  Employers also must pay employees double time for: (1) each hour worked over twelve in a single day and (2) each hour worked over eight on the seventh consecutive day of work in any given workweek.

To calculate the regular rate of pay for purposes of paying overtime, employers must include hourly wages, salaries and wage augments, such as shift differentials, non-discretionary bonuses, commissions or piece-rate pay if received by the employee.

Only exempt employees are not entitled to overtime pay.  This is a narrow exception and employees must fall under one of the following exemptions:

– Executive Exemption

– Administrative Exemption

– Professional Exemption

– Outside Sales Exemption

– Inside Sales Exemption

– Computer Professional Exemption

If you believe you are not being paid overtime or have been misclassified as non-exempt, you should contact an attorney to discuss your legal rights.

Meal and Rest Periods

Meal Breaks

In California, employers must provide all employees an unpaid 30-minute meal break once the employee has worked five hours.  If the employee’s workday will be completed in six hours or less, the employee may consent to waive (give up) the right to a meal break.

An employee who works ten hours is entitled to a second 30-minute unpaid meal break. If the entire workday will not exceed 12 hours, the employee may waive the right to a second meal break. However, the second break may be waived only if the employee actually took the first break. (In other words, an employee may not waive both breaks in one day.)

Unless the employee is relieved of all duty during his or her thirty minute meal period, the meal period is considered “on duty” and the employee must be paid for that time at his or her regular rate of pay.

Rest Breaks

California also requires employers to provide rest breaks. Employers must allow employees to take a paid ten-minute rest break for every four hours (or major fraction) worked. Breaks are not required for employees who total daily work time is less than three-and-a-half hours.

Penalties for Failure to Provide Meal and Rest Breaks

If an employer fails to provide an employee with a meal or rest period, the employer must pay the employee one hour of premium pay at the employee’s regular rate of compensation for each workday that the meal or rest period is not provided.  The hour of additional premium pay is in addition to the pay required for the time the employee worked through the meal or rest period.  California courts have generally found that employees are entitled to a maximum of one premium pay for each missed meal period per day and one premium pay for each missed rest break per day.

Travel Time

As a general matter, travel time is considered work time and therefore should be paid.  This includes travel to a different work site on a temporary basis or travel by an employee, travel using an employer’s transportation to and from the work site, and travel during which the employee is prohibited from using his or her own transportation.  This time also must be counted as work time for purposes of calculating overtime for non-exempt employees.  In addition, the employee’s out-of-pocket travel expenses must be reimbursed by the employer.

However, travel time does not typically include an employee’s normal commute and and from his or her regular work site.

Expense Reimbursement

In California, employers have a duty to reimburse employees for reasonable work-related expenses.  Courts have held that employers that know or have reason to know that an employee has incurred work-related expenses must reimburse the employee, even if the employee does not request reimbursement.

Some of the more common work-related expenses we see include:

– Automobile-Related Expenses

– Tools and Equipment

– Uniforms

– Cell Phones/Mobile Devices

If you believe you have issues with your pay, you should speak to an attorney immediately.  Contact Ares Law Group NOW for a FREE consultation regarding YOUR claim.

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