What Is the Minimum Wage in California?

Daniel Bagley  | 

On January 1, 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.

2020 Minimum Wage in California: $13 per hour

By state law, the minimum wage for California employers with 26 or more employees (large employers) is $13 per hour. For employers with 25 or fewer employees (small employers), the minimum wage is $12 per hour. 

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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.

In the midst of the larger $15 minimum wage movement in the US, 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; in 2019, it was $12 per hour; for small employers, it was $10 per hour in 2017, $10.50 per hour in 2018, and $11 per hour in 2019.   

Tipped: $13 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 $12 per hour; if there are 26 or more people on staff, they’ll earn at least $13 per hour. Employers aren’t eligible for tip credits, meaning they can’t apply employee tips towards the minimum wage requirement. 

Weekly: $520 per week

For a 40-hour workweek, employees at businesses with 26 or more employees could earn $520 per week; employees at businesses with 25 or fewer employees could earn $480. This does not account for any California state taxes, federal taxes, or benefit deductions you may have to pay.

Annually: $27,040 per year

Employees who earn minimum wage at businesses with 26 or more employees can earn $27,040 annually in 2020 (if they work the standard 40-hour workweek). Those earning minimum wage at businesses with 25 or fewer employees can earn $24,960. This would apply to employees at businesses that offer holiday pay and paid time off for vacations. 

Overtime: $19.50 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 $19.50 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 $18 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 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:

2020 Bay Area Minimum Wages

Although the minimum wage in California is already significantly higher than the federal minimum wage, the rising cost of living in the Bay Area has caused many municipalities in this region to implement their own minimum wage ordinances. 

 

  • Alameda: $13.50 per hour for all employers;
  • Belmont: $15 per hour for all employers;
  • Berkeley: $15.59 per hour for all employers;
  • Cupertino: $15.35 per hour for all employers;
  • Daly City: $13.75 per hour for all employers;
  • El Cerrito: $15.37 per hour for all employers;
  • Emeryville: $16.30 per hour for all employers;
  • Fremont: $11 per hour for small employers, $13.50 per hour for large employers;
  • Los Altos: $15.40 per hour for all employers;
  • Menlo Park: $15 per hour for all employers;
  • Milpitas: $15 per hour for all employers;
  • Mountain View: $16.05 per hour for all employers;
  • Novato: $12 per hour for small employers, $13 per hour for very large and large employers;
  • Oakland: $14.14 per hour for all employers;
  • Palo Alto: $15.40 per hour for all employers;
  • Petaluma: $12 per hour for small employers, $13 per hour for large employers;
  • Redwood City: $15.38 per hour for all employers;
  • Richmond: $15 per hour for all employers;
  • San Francisco: $15.59 per hour for all employers;
  • San Jose: $15.25 per hour for all employees;
  • San Leandro: $14 per hour for all employers;
  • San Mateo: $15.38 per hour for all employers;
  • Santa Clara: $15.40 per hour for all employees;
  • Santa Rosa: $12 per hour for small employers, $13 per hour for large employers;
  • Sonoma: $12.50 per hour for small employers, $13.50 per hour for large employers;
  • South San Francisco: $15 per hour for all employers;
  • Sunnyvale: $16.05 per hour for all employees.

2020 Los Angeles Area Minimum Wages

Just like the Bay Area, the cost of living in Los Angeles and the surrounding area continues to increase, leading the following cities to pass their own minimum wage ordinances: 

  • Los Angeles: $13.25 per hour for small employers, $14.25 per hour for large employers;
  • Los Angeles County: $13.25 per hour for small employers, $14.25 per hour for large employers; 
  • Malibu: $13.25 per hour for small employers, $14.25 per hour for large employers;
  • Pasadena: $13.25 per hour for small employers; $14.25 per hour for large employers;
  • San Diego: $13 per hour for all employers;
  • Santa Monica: $13.25 per hour for small employers, $14.25 for large employers, $16.63 for hotels.

Once California’s minimum wage rises above any of the minimum wage requirements of these municipalities due to the planned increases, businesses in both the Bay Area and Los Angeles will have to pay their employees the higher applicable rate.


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