California’s Minimum Wage for 2021

California’s Minimum Wage for 2021

Every year, California’s minimum wage increases – we’re on our way to $15 per hour for all employees across the state by 2023. That means on January 1, 2021, California’s minimum wage is increasing. Here’s what you need to know.

California’s Minimum Wage for 2021

The state of California is raising its minimum wage on January 1, 2021. The increase depends on whether an employer has 25 or fewer employees. If an employer has 25 or fewer employees, minimum wage will go up to $13 per hour; if an employer has 26 or more employees, minimum wage is $14 per hour. You can see the breakdown, including future years, in the table below.

Year

25 Employees or Fewer

26 or More Employees

2021 $13/hour $14/hour
2022 $14/hour $15/hour
2023 $15/hour

By 2022, large companies will be required to pay workers at least $15 per hour; the following year, all other companies must follow suit.

Related: Minimum wage disputes

What if Your Employer Doesn’t Pay You Minimum Wage, Effective January 1, 2021?

Your employer is legally required to pay you the state’s minimum wage. If your employer has 25 or fewer employees, your paycheck should reflect an hourly wage of at least $14. If your employer has 26 or more employees, your paycheck should reflect an hourly wage of at least $15.

If your employer isn’t paying you California’s minimum wage, or if your employer is doing the following things, you may have legal recourse:

  • Forcing you to work for tips or sales commission alone, with no other wages
  • Deducting operating expenses from your wages (such as the cost of uniforms, spills and breakage, equipment or cash register shortage)

These are actually fairly common violations of minimum wage laws, and they occur in service and manufacturing industries more often than most of us realize.

What About the Federal Minimum Wage?

Federal minimum wage is lower than California’s – but that doesn’t mean it’s okay for your employer to pay you that little. In fact, when a state law conflicts with a federal law, the one that has a stricter standard is the one that counts. California’s minimum wage law provides stronger protections for employees, which means that’s the one that counts in this situation.

What About Overtime?

Your employer, regardless of your hourly wage, is required to abide by overtime laws set forth by the state of California. Overtime looks like this in California:

Hours Worked

Mandatory Pay

8 in one day Regular pay rate
More than 8 in one day 1.5 times your regular pay rate for any time worked over 8 hours
8 hours on the 7th consecutive day of work 2 times your regular pay rate
12 or more hours in one day 2 times your regular pay rate for time worked over 12 hours
40 hours in one week Regular pay rate
More than 40 hours in one week 1.5 times your regular pay rate for time worked over 40 hours

What About Exempt Employees and California’s Minimum Wage for 2021?

Exempt employees aren’t subject to minimum wage laws and increases, but they are required to be paid a fair amount. The table below outlines the minimum weekly, monthly and annual salaries for exempt employees in the state of California.

Year

Weekly Salary Monthly Salary

Annual Salary

2021 $1,120 $4,853.33 $58,240
2022 $1,200 $5,200 $62,400

Who Enforces Minimum Wage Disputes?

Generally, the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, or DSLE, enforces minimum wage disputes. Most people must first file a claim with their local DSLE office; then, the case goes before a Deputy Labor Commissioner, who evaluates it and determines how to proceed. If a conference is scheduled, all interested parties will receive a notification. The conference’s aim is to find a resolution without having to go to a hearing – but if that fails, the Deputy Labor Commissioner will schedule a hearing.

Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About California’s Minimum Wage for 2021?

If you’re not being paid fairly – or if your employer is engaging in any form of wage theft – we may be able to help you. Call us right away at 818-230-8380 or fill out the form below. We’ll evaluate your case and help you come up with a plan for your next steps.


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