Vincent W Davis

Wage and Hour Law

General Wage and Hour Law Requirements That Affect Most Employees:

Pay Day

Most employees must be paid twice during each calendar month. Labor performed between the 1st and 15th of the month must be paid for on regular paydays between the 16th and 26th of the month; labor performed between the 16th and the end of the month must be paid for between the 1st and 10th of the following month.

Employee Pay Stubs

Employers must provide employees an itemized written statement showing the following:

  • Gross wages earned
  • Total hours worked by each employee whose compensation is based on an hourly wage
  • The number of piece-rate units earned and any applicable piece rate
  • All deductions
  • Net wages earned
  • Inclusive dates of the period for which the employee is paid
  • The name of the employee and the last four digits of his or her Social Security number (or an employee identification number)
  • The employer’s name and address; and
  • All applicable hourly rates in effect during the pay period and the corresponding number of hours worked.

Right to Inspect Your Payroll Records

Employees have the right to inspect their payroll records for the last 3 years.  Employers must make records available for inspection or copying by current and former employees as soon as practicable, but not later than 21 days from the date of an oral or written request.

An employee who is injured by an employer’s knowing and intentional failure to maintain and provide the required statements and payroll records may recover the greater of actual damages or $50 for the initial pay period and $100 for each violation in a subsequent pay period, not exceeding an aggregate penalty of $4000, in addition to costs and reasonable attorney fees.

The California Labor Code authorizes penalties of $250 per employee, per violation, in an initial citation and $1000 per employee for each violation in a subsequent citation for a private employer’s failure to provide an itemized wage statement or to keep the records required.

Reporting Time Pay

If an employee is required to report to work and reports to work, but is not put to work or is given less than half of his or her usual or scheduled day’s work, the employee must be paid for half the usual or scheduled day’s work, but no less than 2 hours or more than 4 hours at the employee’s regular rate of pay, unless of course, there is an act of God or several other exceptions.

Waiting Time Penalties

Wages earned by an employee but unpaid and vacation time earned but not used by an employee are due and payable immediately when the employer discharges the employee.  Wages earned include compensation for missed meal and rest periods.

Employees who voluntarily quit generally must be paid on their last day of work if they give at least 72 hours previous notice of their intention to quit; however, an employee who does not give prior notice must be paid within 72 hours after his or her last day of work.

But, when an employee of a temporary services employer finishes an assignment but remains employed by the temporary services employer and is available for future assignments, the employee is not entitled to immediate payment of all wages earned.  The Labor Commissioner must impose a civil penalty in an amount not exceeding 30 days’ pay for the employer’s willful failure to pay wages (intentional failure or refusal to perform an act that is required) due a discharged or quitting employee; i.e., the employee’s wages continue to accrue at the same rate as a penalty, from the due date until paid or until an action is commenced, up to a limit of 30 days.

Paying Commissions  and Bonuses After Termination of Employment

Generally, termination of employment, whether voluntary or involuntary, does not impede an employee’s right to receive a commission when no other action is required on the part of the employee to complete the sale leading to the commission payment.

However, employees are generally not entitled to a bonus “where…the bonus did not become payable until a certain date and the employee voluntarily left his position before that date.” But, an employer may not terminate an employee to prevent the employee from vesting in the bonus or profit-sharing plan, or attach other unlawful conditions.

Minimum Wage

The California minimum wage is currently $8.00 per hour.  For hourly employees, the hourly rate of pay must be at least $8.00 per hour.  For piece-rate employees, the average hourly earnings during the workweek must be at least $8.00 per hour.  For commission employees, the average hourly earnings during the workweek must also be at least $8.00 per hour.  Employers cannot recoup the amount in excess that had to be paid to compensate the employee at the minimum wage level in the earlier workweek.  California law does not permit tip credits against the minimum wage.  However, California law does allow employers to credit meals and lodging furnished to the employee against the minimum wage under a voluntary written agreement with the employee with a maximum credit of $2.90 for breakfast, $3.97 for lunch and $5.34 for dinner and $37.63 per week for a room occupied alone; $31.06 per week for a shared room; and two-thirds of the ordinary rental value, but not more than $451.89, for an apartment.


For Nonexempt employees, except as otherwise provided (1) any work in excess of 8 hours in one workday, (2) any work in excess of 40 hours in any one workweek, and (3) the first 8 hours worked on the seventh consecutive day of work in a workweek must be compensated at a rate of no less than one and one-half times the employee’s regular rate of pay. Any work in excess of 12 hours in one workday, and any work in excess of 8 hours on the seventh consecutive day of work in a workweek, must be compensated at a rate of no less than twice the employee’s regular rate of pay.

Calculating the regular rate for hourly employees is easy.  Calculating the regular rate for salaried employees is more complicated.  The regular rate of pay is determined by dividing a nonexempt full-time salaried employee’s weekly salary by 40, regardless of how many hours the employee worked.  If an employee is paid on a piece-rate basis, the regular rate is determined by adding together the employee’s total earnings from piece rates and dividing the sum by the number of hours worked in the workweek. The piece-rate employee must be paid an additional one-half times this regular rate for all hours worked in excess of 40 in the workweek.

“Hours worked” is defined as the time during which an employee is subject to an employer’s control, and includes all the time the employee is permitted to work, whether or not required to do so.  Time spent on prepping and concluding work is compensable if those activities are an integral part of the employee’s principal activity. For example, if an employee in a chemical plant cannot perform his or her principal activities without putting on certain clothes, time spent changing clothes at the beginning and end of each workday would be compensable.

Meal and Rest Periods

California employees must be given 10-minute net rest periods for every 4 hours of work, to be taken in the middle of each 4-hour period as far as is practical.  Rest periods are not counted towards hours worked.  In fact, employers may not require employees to work during any rest period.  Rest breaks cannot be waived or abridged by contact.  Generally, the failure to provide a rest period entitles the employee to one additional hour of pay at the employee’s regular rate of compensation for each day that the rest period is not provided.  Employers are also required to provide break times for employees who desire to express breast milk for their infant children.

Additionally, employers may not employ employees for a work period of more than 5 hours per day without providing the employee with a meal period of not less than 30 minutes, except that if the total work period per day is no more than 6 hours, the meal period may be waived by mutual consent of both the employer and employee. Similarly, employers may not employ employees for a work period of more than 10 hours per day without providing the employee with a second meal period of not less than 30 minutes, except that if the total hours worked is no more than 12 hours, the second meal period may be waived by mutual consent of the employer and the employee only if the first meal period was not waived.

No employer may require an employee to work during any meal period mandated by an applicable order of the Industrial Welfare Commission.  In general, if an employer fails to provide an employee a meal period in accordance with an applicable order, the employer must pay the employee one additional hour of pay at the employee’s regular rate of compensation for each work day that the meal period is not provided.  Unless an employee is relieved of all duty during a 30-minute meal period, the meal period must be considered an “on duty” meal period and counted as time worked. An “on duty” meal period is permitted only when the nature of the work prevents an employee from being relieved of all duty and when the parties agree in writing to an on-the-job paid meal period. The written agreement must state that the employee may, in writing, revoke the agreement at any time. More about Rest & Meal Breaks HERE.

Exemptions from Minimum Wage and Overtime Requirements

Nearly all the Wage Orders exempt executive, administrative, and professional employees from their requirements, but few employees actually meet these requirements.  Additionally the following few occupations (and a few others) may be found to be exempt:

  • Certain computer-related professions in the computer software field who are primarily engaged in work that is intellectual or creative and that requires the exercise of discretion and independent judgment;
  • Outside salespersons;
  • Certain commissioned salespersons;
  • Certain professionals;
  • Certain agricultural workers.

Contact a California Labor Law Attorney

If you find yourself with an employment issue or it is always best to contact a knowledgeable and experienced California employment lawyer for an assessment of your unique situation. Most employment issues can be preliminarily discussed by phone, and then if it is necessary to visit one of our attorneys in person, we have several conveniently-located offices in and around the Southern California counties and cities including, but not limited to:

  • Los Angeles
  • Los Angeles County
  • Orange County
  • Riverside County
  • San Bernardino County
  • Santa Ana</li
  • Beverly Hills
  • Anaheim
  • Irvine
  • Long Beach
  • Pasadena
  • And more…

Arcadia Office
150 N. Santa Anita Ave,
Suite 200
Arcadia, CA 91006
Phone: (626) 446-6442
Fax: (626)-446-6454

Beverly Hills Office
9465 Wilshire Blvd.
Suite 300
Beverly Hills, CA 90212
Phone: (310)-880-5733

La Mirada Office
Cerritos Towne Center
17777 Center Court Drive ,
Suite 600
Cerritos, California, 90703
Phone: 888-888-6542

Los Angeles Office
Gas Company Tower
555 West Fifth Street,
31st Floor
Los Angeles, California, 90013
Phone: (213)-400-4132

Long Beach Office
Landmark Square
111 West Ocean Blvd.,
Suite 400
Long beach, California, 90802

Irvine Office
Oracle Tower
17901 Von Karman Avenue,
Suite 600
Irvine, California, 92614
Phone: (949)-203-3971
Fax: (949)-203-3972

Ontario Office
Lakeshore Center
3281 E. Guasti Road,
7th Floor
City of Ontario, California, 91761

Riverside Office
Turner Riverwalk
11801 Pierce Street,
Suite 200
Riverside, California, 92505
Phone: (909)-996-5644

San Diego
Emerald Plaza
402 West Broadway,
Suite #400
San Diego, California, 92101
Phone: (619)-885-2070

Aliso Viejo
Ladera Corporate Terrace
999 Corporate Drive,
Suite 100
Ladera Ranch, California, 92694
Phone: (714) 721-3822