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Understanding your rights as an hourly employee

| Jun 3, 2019 | Uncategorized

Hourly employees have certain rights under state law. Knowing your rights helps you ensure that your employer is scheduling and paying you legally.

If you receive an hourly wage at your job, these California labor laws apply to you. You can seek legal help if your employer does not follow these laws.

Minimum wage

Minimum wage for hourly employees is $12 in California. If you work for a small company that has fewer than 25 workers, you may be legally paid $11 per hour. You must receive the same rate as another person doing the same job unless he or she has seniority, higher education or a demonstrated higher quality or quantity of work produced.

Minimum wage does not apply to salespeople and certain other specific jobs. In addition, your employer can pay you 85% of the state minimum wage for training during your first 160 hours on the job.


If you work more than 40 hours a week, your employer must pay overtime for the extra hours. Hours must be paid at 1.5 times your hourly wage (a minimum of $18) as follows:

  • The first eight hours of your shift on your seventh day in a row at work
  • All hours after you reach 40 hours in the work week
  • All hours in a shift after you have already completed eight consecutive hours

In these situations, your employer must pay two times your hourly wage (at least $24 per hour):

  • Any hours worked after the 12th hour in a single shift
  • Any hours after the first eight hours of your shift on the seventh consecutive day of work

Meals and breaks

When you work at least five hours in a row, you must receive a meal break of at least 30 minutes. However, this may not apply for certain jobs in the movie industry. Most hourly employees are also eligible for a 10-minute break per four hours of the shift.

California labor laws are complex and can be difficult to understand. However, lawmakers designed them in part to protect hourly employees and create a fair workplace environment.