What are my rights as a worker in California?

California is one of the most pro-labor states in the country. There are strict laws guaranteeing wages and breaks. If you’re attempting to organize, you should first familiarize yourself with your federal rights, and then your local laws. Here’s what you need to know in California:

What are my basic wage and break rights in California?

  • All workers in California are entitled to a $15 minimum wage. 
  • Time and a half overtime must be granted for all shifts over eight hours, all weeks over 40 hours, and the seventh consecutive workday in a week. 
  • Double overtime must be granted for shifts over twelve hours and shifts over eight hours on the seventh consecutive workday in a week. 
  • You are entitled to a ten-minute break for every four hours of work.
  • You must have a meal break of at least 30 minutes after no more than five hours of work.

Read more about California worker’s rights.

What are the laws governing paychecks in California?

  • Employees must be paid every two weeks, and final paychecks are due on the day of termination.
  • Employers must provide pay stubs with all paychecks.
  • Employers must reimburse all expenses deemed “necessary” for performing job duties.

How do I form a union in California?

It is within your federal rights as well as your state rights to form a union in the state of California. 

Is California an at-will employment state?

Yes. This means that your employer can terminate you without cause at any time. Exceptions to this are if you are in a union and your union contract requires your employer give “just cause” to fire you.

Is California a right-to-work state?

No. This means that if you get a job in a unionized workplace, your membership in the union may be required. Workers in states without right-to-work laws enjoy higher wages and better benefits than those in right-to-work states because unions are able to better negotiate on their behalf.

Are there industry-specific protections in California?

New labor legislation took effect in January 2022 which provides added protections to janitorial employees, agricultural workers, newspaper carriers, domestic workers, hotel workers, farmworkers, veterans and independent contractors.

How do I file a labor complaint if I’m not in a union?

You can report a labor law violation through the California Department of Industrial Relations.

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