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An overview of minimum wages in California

Wages can be a significant concern to those starting a new job, especially if there seems to be a discrepancy between the wage that is paid and the state laws. Workers in California are affected by both state and federal guidelines, and the more strict of the two laws applies in any given situation. This means that the law that provides more of a benefit to the employee is to be used.

California's wage and hour law provides for a current rate of $9.00 per hour, which became effective in July 2014. The next legislated increase will become effective at the beginning of 2016, at which time the state's minimum wage will be $10.00 per hour. Because this exceeds the federal minimum wage, workers are typically provided with the state's prescribed rate of pay.

There are certain situations in which a California employee may be exempt from minimum wage laws. For example, those who work as sheepherders are subject to a monthly rate. The amount was set at $1600.34 in July 2014 and will increase to $1777.98 at the beginning of 2016. So-called "learners", who are employees new to an occupation and who are in their first 160 hours on the job, may be paid a minimum of 85 percent of the state's minimum wage. Exceptions are made for relatives of an employer and for outside sales individuals. Additionally, those who are physically or mentally disabled and working for eligible nonprofit entities might receive wages below the prescribed minimum.

An individual who has questions about the rate of pay might ask the employer to verify the rate and to clarify reasons if the rate is less than the state minimum. If an issue such as learner wages has been inappropriately applied, it might be helpful to seek legal advice about the situation if the employer does not correct the rate.

Source: State of California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, "Minimum Wage", accessed on Jan. 16, 2015

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