California Minimum Wage: Minimum Wage in California for 2024

March 25, 2024

Are you keeping up with the changes to the California minimum wage? As a restaurant or business owner, understanding these updates is crucial for your operational planning and financial management. This guide will walk you through the latest adjustments to the state and local minimum wage rates for 2024. 

Wondering how these changes might affect your business? Read on to get all the insights you need.

What is the Minimum Wage in California?

As of January 1, 2024, the minimum wage for employees in California, regardless of the employer’s size, has been set at $16.00 per hour. This is a step up from the 2023 rate, which was $15.50 for every employee. 

California Minimum Wage Exemptions

Not all employees are subject to the standard minimum wage due to specific exemptions outlined by state law. Key exemptions include:

  • Outside Salespersons: Employees who primarily work in sales outside the employer's place of business.

  • Family Members: Individuals employed who are the employer's parent, spouse, or child.

  • Apprentices: Those enrolled in a State Division of Apprenticeship Standards program may earn 85% of the minimum wage for the first 160 hours of employment in new occupations.

Additionally, employees with mental or physical disabilities and those employed by certain nonprofit organizations might receive wages below the minimum under specific conditions, until January 1, 2025.

California Minimum Wage for Fast Food Workers

Starting from April 1, 2024, a pivotal shift in wage regulations will affect many in the restaurant industry across California. Specifically, employees within the "fast food restaurant" category are set to receive a minimum wage increase, setting the new standard at $20.00 per hour. 

This adjustment stems from the enactment of AB 1228, which not only elevates the minimum wage but also introduces the Fast Food Council. This body is tasked with potential future wage adjustments and setting other employment standards specific to the fast food sector.

Understanding Fast Food Restaurant Classification

For a restaurant to fall under the "fast food" classification, subject to the AB 1228 regulation, it must satisfy several criteria:

  • The establishment must be a limited-service restaurant within California. This entails minimal to no table service, with customers typically ordering and paying for their food or beverages before consumption.

  • It must be part of a chain comprising at least 60 establishments nationwide. These refer to individual restaurant locations serving food or beverages. Locations dedicated solely to administrative tasks, warehouses, or food preparation without direct customer interaction do not count toward this total.

  • The primary business activity must be selling food and beverages for immediate consumption.

Exemptions from the New Law

Despite these broad criteria, certain fast food establishments may find themselves exempt from the new law:

  • Bakery-Operated Restaurants: Establishments that operate a bakery producing and selling bread as a standalone menu item as of September 15, 2023, will not be subject to the new wage law. The definition of "bread" in this context is a single unit item weighing at least ½ pound post-cooling and sold individually.

  • Grocery-located Fast Food Restaurants: Establishments situated within a grocery store may also be exempt. For this exemption to apply, the grocery store must exceed 15,000 square feet and primarily sell household foodstuffs for offsite consumption. The restaurant within such an establishment must be directly employed by the grocery store.

It’s important to note that the exemption does not cover restaurants that only sell bread as part of another product (like sandwiches), sell lighter standalone items (like most muffins or rolls), or do not produce bread on the premises from scratch.

California Minimum Wage for Health Care Employees

The recent legislative adjustments under Senate Bill No. 525, effective October 13, 2023, introduce a tailored approach to minimum wage regulations for healthcare sector employees. Here’s what you need to know:

  • High-Capacity Health Care Facilities: Employers with over 10,000 employees or those within extensive healthcare systems will implement a minimum wage of $23 per hour starting June 2024, escalating to $25 per hour by June 2026.

  • Specialized Health Care Settings: Facilities like dialysis clinics and certain clinics with specific requirements will see an initial minimum wage increase to $21 per hour in June 2024, eventually reaching $25 per hour by June 2027.

  • Rural and Smaller Facilities: Hospitals in less populous counties or with a high governmental payor mix will adopt an $18 per hour wage from June 2024, which will rise to $25 per hour by June 2033, ensuring gradual adjustment to the wage increments.

  • General Health Care Facilities: The remaining healthcare employers are set to increase their minimum wage to $21 per hour in June 2024, with planned increases leading to a $25 per hour wage by June 2028.

These changes signify a strategic move to address the workforce shortages and the essential nature of healthcare workers, ensuring their compensation reflects the critical services they provide to California's residents and visitors.

California Minimum Wage for Tipped Employees

Under California law, tips are the exclusive property of the employee who earns them. As an employer, this means you are prohibited from using these tips as a credit towards your obligation to pay the statewide minimum wage of $16.00 per hour. In simpler terms, regardless of the tips an employee might earn, you are required to pay the full minimum hourly wage. 

Moreover, should your patrons tip via credit card, the law mandates that employees receive the full amount specified by the customer on the payment slip without any deductions for credit card processing fees. This ensures that tipped employees are compensated fairly without indirectly reducing their earnings with operational costs.

Overtime Pay in California

Understanding overtime regulations is crucial for managing your payroll effectively. Here’s a simplified breakdown of the overtime pay structure:

Standard Overtime: Employees over 18 (and minors 16 or 17 not required to attend school) must receive 1.5 times their regular pay for:

  • Hours worked beyond 8 in a day, up to and including 12 hours.

  • The first 8 hours worked on the seventh consecutive day of a workweek.

Double Time: Employees earn double their regular rate for:

  • Hours worked over 12 in any single day.

  • Hours worked over 8 on the seventh consecutive day of a workweek.

Exemptions and exceptions exist within these regulations, meaning some employee classifications might follow different overtime rules. It’s important to verify specific conditions that may apply to your business sector, such as agricultural workers, who have distinct overtime standards.

California State Minimum Wage vs. Local Minimum Wage vs. Federal Minimum Wage

Understanding federal, state, and local minimum wage distinctions and requirements is essential for your business operations. Let’s break down how these different wage levels compare and interact.

Federal Minimum Wage

The federal minimum wage is the baseline rate set by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which has been at $7.25 per hour since July 24, 2009. While this rate applies nationwide, states and local jurisdictions can set higher minimum wages.

State Minimum Wage

California’s state minimum wage for 2024 has been established at $16.00 per hour, significantly surpassing the federal rate. This increase demonstrates California’s commitment to maintaining a wage that reflects the state’s cost of living and economic conditions. Employers in California must adhere to this state mandate, as it provides greater employee benefits than the federal minimum wage.

Local Minimum Wage

In addition to the state and federal levels, local jurisdictions in California may enact their own minimum wage rates, which can exceed the state minimum. Cities and counties across California have taken this step, introducing higher minimum wages to address local economic needs and living costs. When local ordinances present a higher wage than state or federal standards, employers must comply with the local wage, ensuring employees receive the most favorable wage available.

Local / City / County Minimum Wages in California

In California, minimum wage rates vary not just statewide but also at local levels. Many cities and counties set their minimum wages above the state minimum, affecting businesses within those jurisdictions. If your business operates in these areas, you're required to pay the local minimum wage if it's higher than the state standard.

According to UC Berkeley's list of City and County minimum wages as of January 1, 2024, here's what you need to know:

  1. Alameda: $16.52 (from 7/1/2023)

  2. Belmont: $17.35 (from 1/1/2024)

  3. Berkeley: $18.07 (from 7/1/2023)

  4. Burlingame: $17.03 (from 1/1/2024)

  5. Cupertino: $17.75 (from 1/1/2024)

  6. Daly City: $16.62 (from 1/1/2024)

  7. East Palo Alto: $17.00 (from 1/1/2024)

  8. El Cerrito: $17.92 (from 1/1/2024)

  9. Emeryville: $18.67 (from 7/1/2023)

  10. Foster City: $17.00 (from 1/1/2024)

  11. Fremont: $16.80 (from 7/1/2023)

  12. Half Moon Bay: $17.01 (from 1/1/2024)

  13. Hayward: $16.90 (from 1/1/2024), $16.00 for small employers

  14. Los Altos: $17.75 (from 1/1/2024)

  15. Los Angeles: $16.78 (from 7/1/2023)

  16. Los Angeles County (unincorporated): $16.90 (from 7/1/2023)

  17. Malibu: $16.90 (from 7/1/2023)

  18. Menlo Park: $16.70 (from 1/1/2024)

  19. Milpitas: $17.20 (from 7/1/2023)

  20. Mountain View: $18.75 (from 1/1/2024)

  21. Novato: $16.60, $16.04 for small employers, Very large business rate (100+ employees): $16.86 (from 1/1/2024)

  22. Oakland: $16.50 (from 1/1/2024)

  23. Palo Alto: $17.80 (from 1/1/2024)

  24. Pasadena: $16.93 (from 7/1/2023)

  25. Petaluma: $17.45 (from 1/1/2024)

  26. Redwood City: $17.70 (from 1/1/2024)

  27. Richmond: $17.20 (from 1/1/2023)

  28. San Carlos: $16.87 (from 1/1/2024)

  29. San Diego: $16.85 (from 1/1/2024)

  30. San Francisco: $18.07 (from 7/1/2023)

  31. San Jose: $17.55 (from 1/1/2024)

  32. San Mateo: $17.35 (from 1/1/2024)

  33. San Mateo County (unincorporated): $17.06 (from 1/1/2024)

  34. Santa Clara: $17.75 (from 1/1/2024)

  35. Santa Monica: $16.90 (from 7/1/2023)

  36. Santa Rosa: $17.45 (from 1/1/2024)

  37. Sonoma: $17.60, $16.56 for small employers (from 1/1/2024)

  38. South San Francisco: $17.25 (from 1/1/2024)

  39. Sunnyvale: $18.55 (from 1/1/2024)

  40. West Hollywood: $19.08 (from 7/1/2023)

*Note: The term "Small Employer" generally refers to businesses that employ 25 or fewer individuals, except in cases where specific local regulations define it differently.

California Workplace Poster Requirements

Understanding and adhering to labor law poster requirements is essential for your business to operate legally in California. Here’s a breakdown of the mandatory posters and notices you need to display:

Department of Industrial Relations Posting Requirements

  • Notice to Employees of Inspection by Immigration Agencies

  • Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC) Order

  • Minimum Wage Order

  • Pay Day Notice

  • Cal/OSHA Form 200

  • Workers’ Compensation Insurance

  • Paid Sick Leave Notice

  • COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave 2022

Other State Agencies Notice and Poster Requirements

  • Harassment or Discrimination in Employment Prohibition

  • Notice to Employees concerning Disability Benefits and Unemployment Insurance

  • Voting Notice

  • Whistleblower Protections

Federal Posting Requirements

Apart from California-specific notices, you must also comply with federal posting obligations. For details on these, visit the U.S. Department of Labor’s website.

These postings are vital for informing your staff about their rights and ensuring your business meets legal standards. For the most current State posters and legal updates, you can download and print the necessary documents from the Department of Industrial Relations website.

How Will the Minimum Wage Increase Impact My Business?

The increase in the minimum wage in California this year will undoubtedly have a significant impact on your business operations. Here are several ways how:

  1. Increased Labor Costs: The most immediate effect will be an increase in payroll expenses. For businesses with a large number of minimum wage employees, this could represent a substantial rise in overall costs.

  2. Adjustment in Hiring Practices: To offset higher labor costs, you may need to reassess your hiring strategy. This could mean prioritizing more experienced employees who can handle multiple roles efficiently or reevaluating the number of staff needed.

  3. Changes in Pricing Strategies: To sustain your profit margins in light of higher wages, reevaluating your pricing model may be necessary. Finding the right balance is crucial to staying competitive while ensuring your business remains profitable.

  4. Impact on Profit Margins: With increased wages, your business may see a squeeze in profit margins unless adjustments are made in other areas, such as cost control, pricing, or operational efficiency.

  5. Overall Business Operations: The need to innovate and improve operational efficiency becomes more pressing. Streamlining processes and reducing waste can help mitigate the financial impact of the wage increase.

As you navigate these changes, understanding their implications and preparing accordingly is crucial for maintaining a healthy business.

How Can I Prepare My Business for the Minimum Wage Increase?

Preparing your business for the minimum wage increase in California is essential to navigate the challenges and leverage the opportunities it presents. Here are actionable steps to help you adjust:

1. Review Your Financials

Start by examining your current financial situation in detail. Understanding your cash flow, profit margins, and expenses is crucial. This will help you identify areas where adjustments can be made to accommodate the higher labor costs without compromising your business’s health.

2. Optimize Operational Efficiency

Look for ways to streamline operations and improve productivity. This could involve investing in technology that automates certain tasks or reorganizing the workflow to reduce idle time. Efficiency gains can offset some of the increased labor costs.

Implementing solutions such as:

can significantly enhance operational efficiency. These tools not only streamline processes but also improve customer experience, leading to potential revenue increases.

3. Revise Pricing Strategies

Assess whether your current pricing model can sustain the increased wage bill. It may be necessary to adjust your prices, but be mindful of how this could affect customer demand. Conduct market research to understand the price sensitivity of your customers.

4. Focus on Employee Retention

High employee turnover can be costly, especially when training new staff. By focusing on retaining your current employees, you can reduce hiring costs. Consider offering non-monetary benefits or creating a more engaging work environment to enhance job satisfaction.

5. Explore Revenue Enhancement Opportunities

Look for new revenue streams or ways to increase sales from existing products or services, including merchandise and restaurant branding. This might include expanding your market reach, enhancing your product offerings, or leveraging marketing strategies to attract more customers.

6. Monitor Legal Requirements

Stay informed about any additional regulations or changes to the minimum wage law in California. Ensuring compliance will help avoid legal pitfalls and potential fines.

7. Engage with Your Workforce

Communicate openly with your employees about the changes and how they might affect the business. Involving them in the process can lead to innovative solutions and foster a sense of teamwork.

By proactively addressing these areas, you can strategically manage the impact of the minimum wage increase on your business. Balancing cost-control measures with investments in technology and your workforce is essential for sustained success.


Understanding the ins and outs of California's minimum wage for 2024 is vital for every business owner. From compliance to financial strategy, the implications are wide-ranging. This guide has aimed to provide clarity and actionable insights to help you navigate these changes smoothly.

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Frequently Asked Questions About the Minimum Wage in California

In this Frequently Asked Questions section, we aim to shed light on common queries related to the minimum wage in California. From potential increases to sector-specific rates, these answers provide clarity on what workers can expect in 2024.

Is the Minimum Wage Going up to $20 in California?

No, the minimum wage in California will not increase to $20 for all employees in 2024. As of January 1, 2024, the statewide minimum wage was set at $16.00 per hour for all workers, irrespective of the employer’s size. 

However, starting from April 1, 2024, there’s a specific adjustment for those working in fast food restaurants, who will see their minimum wage rise to $20.00 per hour. This change is a result of AB 1228 legislation and applies to fast food establishments that meet certain criteria, such as being part of a chain with at least 60 locations nationwide. Notably, this increase does not apply universally across all sectors or job types within the state.

Who Gets $20 an Hour in California?

In California, starting April 1, 2024, fast-food employees will earn at least $20 per hour, following a new law signed by Governor Gavin Newsom. This increase, setting fast-food workers’ wages $4 above the state’s minimum wage for 2024, is a direct outcome of extensive advocacy by over half a million workers in the sector.

What is the Minimum Wage in California for Restaurants in 2024?

California’s minimum wage for all workers, including those in restaurants, is set at $16.00 per hour as of January 1, 2024. However, starting April 1, 2024, employees at fast food restaurants as part of a chain with at least 60 locations nationwide will see their minimum wage increase to $20.00 per hour, according to AB 1228. This law targets limited-service restaurants where customers typically order and pay before eating. 

Exemptions apply, including bakery-operated restaurants selling bread as a standalone item and fast food establishments within grocery stores exceeding 15,000 square feet, provided the grocery store directly employs the restaurant.

Disclaimer: This blog post provides an overview of the minimum wage regulations in California as of 2024, including specific conditions and exemptions. It is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. The laws and regulations mentioned are subject to change, and their application can vary based on specific circumstances. Business owners and employers are encouraged to consult with a legal professional or a labor law expert to ensure compliance with current laws and to receive advice tailored to their particular situation.

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