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Did you know? Facts about California labor laws

If you’ve been employed in California for any length of time, you’re probably already aware that labor laws in our offer protections from employers’ actions that violate workers’ civil rights. But for those of you who are just preparing to enter the workforce, we’ve compiled a list of some of the useful and in some cases, unusual labor laws that it might be of benefit. 

●      Your employer can tell you when to take your vacation - It is within the rights of an employer who offers paid vacation time to manage the way that time is used. This does include placing restrictions on how many vacation days that can be taken in a row and the time of year in which they can be used. 

●      Your employer cannot deduct advanced vacation time taken from your final paycheck - Employers who allow their employees to use vacation time that they are expected to earn but have not yet officially accrued are not legally allowed to deduct that advanced time from the final payment of that employee if they should quit before making up that amount of time earned. 

●      Your employer is not required by law to pay you for holidays that you don’t work - This is a matter that seems to cause some confusion, as this is left up to the preference of the employer. While some workplaces do offer paid holidays, they are choosing to offer this benefit on their own and not due to a legal requirement. Other employers opt not to offer pay for unworked holidays.

●      You have three years to file a wage claim for meal periods you were not allowed -  Generally, California requires that employees who work more than five hours a day must be given a lunch/dinner break of at least thirty minutes. There are further stipulations on this depending on the nature of your work or the length of your shift and other factors, but the basic law on this matter provides that thirty minute break for a shift of over five hours. If your employer is not providing you with the required legal break for meals, you can file a wage claim with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement to request payment of one hour at your regular pay rate. While many employees may be aware of this option, most are not aware that the statute of limitations on filing this claim for unpaid meal break violations is a full three years after the date of the violation. 

●      If part of your compensation includes tips, your employer cannot take your tips or deduct them from your wages - If you are given or left a tip by a customer, your employer cannot legally keep any part of that tip. They are also prevented by law from deducting the amount of any tip you receive from your general wages or from deducting the cost of any processing fee from a tip left to you on a bill paid using a credit card. You should be paid the state’s minimum wage (at least) as well as any tips that a customer leave for you.

●      Minimum wage in California was increased in 2017 - Starting on January 1st, 2017, California raised the minimum wage rate for companies that have 26 or more employees to $10.50 an hour.

Hopefully there was at least one law on this list that you may find useful now or in the future. If this list raised any questions or concerns regarding the legality of policy at your current employment that you’d like to discuss, feel free to contact us today. 

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