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The main difference between federal and California wage laws

On Behalf of | May 9, 2024 | Wage & Hour Claims |

California has one of the biggest economies in the world, so it is little surprise that the laws regulating the economy are different here than in the rest of the country. California employers are subject to more laws regulating how they treat their employees, and workers benefit from enhanced job protections and wage rights.

For example, California has more comprehensive overtime rules than the federal government does. Overtime wages are available in more scenarios and can even include mandatory double-time pay in some cases. Minimum wage requirements are higher in California than at the federal level, and California very clearly outlines how promptly employers must pay workers for time on the job.

There are many small differences between federal and state employment and wage laws, but one of the biggest ones is a common contributing element to modern wage claims in California.

California does not uphold the de minimus rule

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is the federal statute describing the pay rights of workers across the United States. The law requires that employers compensate hourly workers for their time on the job in compliance with the law, with one notable exception.

Employers do not have to worry about wage claims for minuscule or insignificant amounts of time where workers may have to perform duties while off the clock. For example, clocking out right before leaving a building and locking the door on the way out might fall under the de minimus rule. In most states, workers have few options if their employers routinely expect them to do minor job functions while clocked out and not receiving wages.

However, in California, wage laws and prior court rulings require that workers receive compensation for all time worked. If a job responsibility is routine and predictable, then an employee should receive pay for that time even if it is only two minutes per shift. Employers generally need to be careful about accurately tracking the time that each employee works and compensating them in full.

Hourly workers who believe that they have not received appropriate compensation may have grounds to pursue a wage and hour claim against their employers. Learning more about California’s unique approach to fair pay may benefit those concerned that they have not received their wages in accordance with state law.