On January 1, 2016, California’s minimum wage was raised from $9 per hour to $10 per hour for most employees. Because there are a few exceptions, it is important to understand how the law may affect you or your business.

At $10 per hour, California currently has the highest state minimum wage in the country. Employers governed by state and federal laws are required to comply with the law that is better for workers. So even though the federal minimum wage rate is $7.25 per hour, most California employers must pay employees at least $10 per hour.

According to the California Department of Industrial Relations, exceptions to the state minimum wage law include:

  • Immediate family members of the employer
  • Outside sales staff
  • Apprentices indentured under California’s Division of Apprenticeship Standards
  • People who are “learners,” during the first 160 working hours in jobs for which they do not have experience

In addition, employers with physically or mentally disabled workers and nonprofits employing disabled workers may pay less than the minimum wage if they are issued a license by the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement.

If you believe you should be paid the new minimum wage, but your employer is not doing so, you can speak with an employment law attorney to learn about your rights. Any type of wage violation, including minimum wage and overtime pay violations, may mean your employer is not following the law. You can also report wage violations to the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement.

Employers who feel they are being unfairly forced to pay the new minimum wage rate can also contact an attorney to discuss their rights and options.