This minimum wage Q-and-A provides insight into a complex issue.

  • What is the minimum wage?

    Effective Jan. 1, 2008, the minimum wage in California is $8 per hour.

  • What is the difference between the state and federal minimum wage?

    Most employers in California are subject to federal, state and municipal minimum-wage laws. When there are conflicting requirements in the laws, the employer must follow the strictest standard -- that is, the one that is the most beneficial to the employee. For example, a San Jose worker makes the city's just-raised minimum hourly wage ($10) instead of the state's ($8) or the federal ($7.25).

  • May an employee agree to work for less than the minimum wage?

    No. The minimum wage is an obligation of the employer and cannot be waived by any agreement, including collective bargaining agreements. However, a small percentage of workers makes less than minimum wage either because of illegal behavior on the part of the employer or because they fall into one of several exempted groups of workers. These include young workers on farms and employees at certain recreational and seasonal establishments.

  • Can a restaurant owner use a server's tips as a credit toward its obligation to pay the minimum wage?

    No.

  • What can employees do if their employer doesn't pay them at least the minimum wage?


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    They can either file a wage claim with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (the Labor Commissioner's Office), or file a lawsuit in court against the employer to recover the lost wages.

    Source: California Department of Industrial Relations