Employment Laws for Employees of California

Employment laws protect workers in various ways, from different eventualities pertaining to workplace accidents, issues, lay off and job loss, etc. Therefore, it’s sensible for an employee of California to know the laws that safeguard them. This article discusses a few useful laws for the benefit of the employees of California.

Minimum wage
The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. In California, wages differ across municipalities. For example, in San Francisco the minimum wage is $10.55, higher than federal minimum wage. In the case of tipped employees, employers are not permitted to play any role from them.

Further, an employee covered the laws who works for more than eight hours a day, and a total of more than 40 hours during a week, should be paid at 150% of the regular wage for the first eight hours on the seventh day in a workweek.

For an employee working more than 12 hours a day or more than eight hours on the seventh working day has to be paid double the rate of regular wage.

Safety at workplace
Under the Federal and California state employment laws, it is mandatory for the employers to make workplace free from all sorts of danger. Also, the workplace should be free from unhealthful environment.

These laws protect employees (who complain to authorities) from retaliatory moves by their employers.

No discrimination on any ground
Federal and California state laws prohibit harassing employees based on gender, race, religion, disability or nationality. California laws prohibit sexual orientation when hiring or at workplace.

Lay off and RIFF
When you work under a contract that does not specify how it works; it may lead to you being fired for any reason – even without serving a notice – unless it is for a reason such as pregnancy, age, work related injury or illness or because of harassment.

Under California laws, employers cannot ask you take paid vacation and lose your job. In the event you lose your job, the employer must pay you for unused vacation time.

RIF (Reduction-in-Force) is a different situation. RIF involves total job loss. Reduction-in-Force occurs because of inadequate work to keep the employee working or the inability to pay the wages by the employer.

For example: assume an employer selling a product that is made by multiple workers. In the event the product is not profitable, and the employer ceases to produce that particular item, in that case the employer may close down the jobs related to the product.

Under RIF, the people that are going to be laid off are decided by factors such as the performance in the past, and number of years that they are employed with the company.

Rules on time off
Under the federal laws, FMLA employees are eligible for unpaid leave up to 12 weeks, to care for a family member, or to take care of newborn or a newly adopted child. Such employees must have worked not less than 1,250 hours in the past one year.

Under California law, a two-hour paid time off is must, to enable employees voting on the Election Day, if the employer gets a notice to that effect before two days from the employee.

If you’re fired…
Unemployment insurance
If you’re fired, you are eligible to get the benefits under California law, if you are an employee who have earned not less than $1,300 in the quarter when the company earned the highest during the base period; Or, not less than $900 in the highest quarter and have received at least 125% of the high quarter earnings.

Unemployment benefits apply only to those employees who lose their job because of not their own fault; and must be physically able to work, looking for employment and willing to accept employment.

COBRA insurance
California laws apply to employees in businesses having two to nineteen employees in the past one year. Under COBRA insurance, the group health plans offered by employers must give their employees and their families who are covered under the scheme, the opportunity for a temporary extension of health coverage (also known as continuation coverage) in cases where coverage plan is likely to end. Once the coverage ends, California laws come to force.

Updated: April 29, 2015 — 12:00 am
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