Employers should pay their employees fairly, but sometimes they don’t always keep up with legal requirements. Employees can keep themselves informed about their rights to make sure their pay reflects California law.

This is especially important since SB 3 passed in 2016. The law requires employers to increase the wages of minimum-wage employees incrementally every year until the statewide minimum wage is $15 per hour. As a new year begins, wages should be going up.

What should my wage be?

Hourly pay for minimum-wage employees is determined by the company size – whether there are 25 or fewer employees or 26 or more. All changes should have gone into effect by January 1, 2019:

  • Employers with 25 or fewer employees should raise their minimum wage from $10.50 per hour to $11 per hour
  • Employers with 26 or more employees should raise their minimum wage from $11 per hour to $12 per hour

Are there any exceptions to the incremental increases?

According to the law, the governor can pause a scheduled increase for one year with certain conditions, such as if job growth is negative or there is a statewide budget deficit. However, this pause can only be used twice and the final decision has to be announced by September 1. Governor Jerry Brown did not choose to pause the increase this year, so wages must increase.

If you’re not getting paid enough

If you are a California employee who is getting paid less than the new minimum wage by January 1, you can protect your rights. Save any pay stubs and other wage-related paperwork, and you can file a formal complaint as outlined in your employee handbook or other company policies. If nothing happens, it may be worth bringing to an employment attorney who can review the documents and determine if you have a case.

Employees have the right to receive fair pay for hard work. As the years pass and the incremental increases continue, be aware of what your hourly wage should be.