What Is the Minimum Wage in California?

Daniel Bagley  | 

On January 1st, 2017, California began raising the minimum wage yearly for employers in all industries. There are some caveats that apply to the following minimum wage information, so be sure to read the details to find out how it may apply to you.

2019 Minimum Wage in California: $12 per hour

By state law, the minimum wage for California employers with 26 or more employees (large employers) is $12 per hour. For employers with 25 or fewer employees (small employers), the minimum wage is $11 per hour.

Some exceptions apply. Your employer doesn’t legally have to pay you the minimum hourly wage if:

  • You’re an outside salesperson;
  • You’re the parent, spouse, or child of the employer;
  • You’re an apprentice or “learner” (someone who is engaged in the first 160 hours of on-the-job training);
  • You’re mentally or physically disabled;
  • You’re employed at a non-profit.

California passed a $15 minimum wage law in April of 2016. Since then, the wage has increased steadily. In 2017, it was $10.50 per hour; in 2018, it was $11 per hour; for small employers, it was $10 per hour in 2017 and $10.50 per hour in 2018.   

Tipped: $12 per hour

The same minimum wage requirement applies to employers whose employees earn tips. If an establishment where employees earn tips has less than 26 people on staff, employees will earn at least $11 per hour; if there are 26 or more people on staff, they’ll earn at least $12 per hour. Employers aren’t eligible for tip credits, meaning they can’t apply employee tips towards the minimum wage requirement.

Weekly: $480

For a 40-hour workweek, employees at businesses with 26 or more employees could earn $480 per week; employees at businesses with 25 or fewer employees could earn $440.

Annually: $24,960

Employees who earn minimum wage at businesses with 26 or more employees could earn $24,960 annually in 2019 (if they work the standard 40-hour workweek). Those earning minimum wage at businesses with 25 or fewer employees could earn $22,880. This would apply to employees at businesses that offer holiday pay and paid time off for vacations.

Overtime: $18 per hour

Employees at businesses with 26 or more employees who work for more than eight hours in a day and more than 40 hours in a week must receive overtime pay at the rate of $18 per hour. Since California’s overtime pay rate is the same as the federal requirement of one-and-a-half times the hourly wage, the overtime rate for employees at businesses with 25 or fewer employees is $16.50 per hour.

California’s minimum wage is a great deal higher than the federal minimum, which is $7.25 per hour. Federal law requires that employees receive the more advantageous wage when a state’s minimum differs from the federal minimum. After the annual increase that will bring the California’s minimum wage to $15 per hour in 2022, the wage will continue to increase based on the federal Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W), which is tied to the rate of inflation.

California Minimum Wage Increase News

As previously noted, California’s minimum wage will continue increasing until it hits $15 per hour in 2022 for large employers; for small employers, it will hit $15 in 2023. After that, it will increase annually based on inflation. However, different cities in California are already paying employees a higher minimum wage than the state minimum, and state law says workers in these cities must receive the higher wage. Here are the California cities with a higher minimum wage than the state:

  • Belmont: $13.50 per hour for all employers;
  • Berkeley: $15 per hour for all employers; on July 1st, 2019, Berkeley will increase the minimum wage to $15.59 per hour for all employers;
  • Cupertino: $15 per hour for all employers; on January 1st, 2020, Cupertino will increase the minimum wage to an estimated $15.35 per hour based on the CPI-W; thereafter, the wage will continue to increase by 1.7 percent on the 1st of each year through 2023;
  • El Cerrito: $15 per hour for all employers;
  • Emeryville: $15 per hour for employers with 55 or less employees; $15.69 per hour for employers with 56 or more; on July 1st, 2019, Emeryville will increase the minimum wage to $16.30 for all employees;
  • Los Altos: $15 per hour for all employers;
  • Los Angeles: $13.25 per hour for large employers; $12 per hour for small employers; on July 1st, 2019, LA will increase the minimum to $13.25 per hour for small employers and $14.25 for large employers;
  • Los Angeles County: $13.25 per hour for large employers; $12 per hour for small employers; on July 1st, 2019, LA County will increase the minimum to $13.25 per hour for small employers and $14.25 for large employers;
  • Malibu: $13.25 per hour for large employers; on July 1st, 2019, Malibu will increase the minimum to $14.25 for large employers;
  • Milpitas: $13.50 for all employers; on July 1st, 2019, Milpitas will increase the minimum to $15 for all employers;
  • Mountain View: $15.65 for all employers;
  • Oakland: $13.80 for all employers;
  • Palo Alto: $15.00 for all employers; starting in 2020, Palo Alto will adjust the minimum each year based on CPI-W;
  • Redwood City: $13.50 for all employers; on January 1st, 2020, Redwood City will increase the minimum to $15 plus the CPI-W;
  • Richmond: $15 for all employers; starting on January 1st, 2020, Richmond will raise the minimum each year based on the CPI-W;
  • San Francisco: $15 for all employers; on July 1st, 2019, SF will increase the minimum to $15.59 for all employers;
  • San Jose: $15 for all employees;
  • San Leandro: $13 per hour for all employers; on July 1st, 2019, SL will increase the minimum to $14 for all employers;
  • San Mateo: $15 for all employers (except non-profits — they must pay employees at least $13.50 per hour); on January 1st, 2020, San Mateo will increase the minimum wage to $15 plus CPI-W for all employers, including non-profits;
  • Santa Clara: $15 for all employees; on January 1st, 2020, Santa Clara will increase the minimum based on CPI-W;
  • Santa Monica: $13.25 for large employers; $12 for small employers; $16.10 for hotels; on July 1st, 2019, Santa Monica will increase the minimum to $14.25 for large employers, $13.25 for small employers, and $16.63 for hotels; the following year, it will be $15 for large employers and $14.25 for small employers; in 2021, it will be $15 for all employers (hotels will remain at $16.63 after 2019);
  • Sunnyvale: $15.65 for all employees.

Once California’s minimum wage rises above any of the minimum wage requirements of these cities due to the planned increases, businesses in these cities will have to pay their employees the higher applicable rate.


Image Source: https://depositphotos.com/

This post was updated June 12, 2019. It was originally published June 26, 2019.