If you are ever looking for an icebreaker conversation topic at a social gathering where you do not know the other attendees very well, the meager protections offered to workers in the United States is a topic that is sure to get everyone talking. With no federally mandated paid leave for new parents, you will hear stories from mothers who returned to work when their children were four weeks old and who pumped breast milk in the supply closet. With minimum wages so low, people will tell you how hard they worked for paltry sums before moving to California, barely making ends meet with a full-time job and an array of gigs. With publicly funded retirement pay so low, the party guests probably know one septuagenarian who has no plans to retire because his job is so much fun, but dozens of others who have no plans to retire because they would be destitute without their employment income, despite how their bones creak. One obligation that employers have in California, as in less worker-friendly states, is that they must pay their employees for the time they have worked. Federal, state, and local laws set minimum wages, and many employees are eligible for overtime pay during weeks when they have a greater than full-time workload. The San Francisco wage and overtime lawyers at HKM Employment Attorneys LLP can help you if your employer has paid you less than the law requires.
What is the Minimum Wage in San Francisco?
The good news is that the minimum wage in San Francisco is higher than it is almost anywhere else in the United States. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, and it has remained at that level for many years. Every Californian knows that $7.25 is not even enough to buy a Double-Double combo meal at In-N-Out Burger, and California lawmakers know this, too, so the statewide minimum wage is $15.50. San Francisco has set its minimum wage at $18.07 per hour, making it one of the best places in the United States to work.
Is It Ever Legal to Pay an Employee Less Than the Minimum Wage?
California law permits some non-profit organizations to pay their employees an hourly wage of less than $15.50 per hour. Likewise, employers may pay a lower hourly wage to some workers under the age of 18, especially when the work is part of a paid training program. For agricultural workers, the minimum wage is $15.00 per hour. Some states exempt domestic employees such as house cleaners and in-home babysitters from the minimum wage, but domestic employees in California have the same right to be paid the minimum wage as employees who work in retail, hotels, and many other industries.
When are You Entitled to Overtime Pay in San Francisco?
Most employees are entitled to overtime pay for hours that they work that exceed the full-time workload for a week. Federal and state laws require that for every hour beyond 40 that you work in a given week, your employer must pay you 1.5 times the hourly rate. Therefore, if your hourly wage is $20 per hour, and one week you work 44 hours, you get $20 each for the first 40 hours and $30 each for the last four. In California, if you have worked more than 40 hours in a week and you worked more than 12 hours in a single day, then your pay for the hours beyond the 12th in your marathon workday is double your hourly rate. Likewise, if you work seven consecutive days, then you get 1.5 times your hourly rate for each hour you work on the seventh day.
If your pay is calculated as an annual salary instead of an hourly wage, then divide your annual salary by 2080 (52 weeks times 40 hours) to determine your base rate of pay. You are entitled to 1.5 times that amount for your overtime hours.
Exemptions and Exceptions to Overtime Pay
In a perfect world, everyone who worked more than 40 hours in a week would receive a higher pay rate for the hours beyond the 40 that they worked. California law requires some exemptions from overtime pay. For example, employers are not always required to pay an overtime rate to the following workers, even when they work more than 40 hours in a seven-day period:
- Workers hired to staff short-term events such as music festivals and Christmas tree sales
- Executive, administrative, and professional employees
- Some workers in the computer software field, even if they receive pay on an hourly basis
- Some public sector employees
- Some professional drivers
- The spouse, parent, or child of the employer
- Student nurses
- Professional actors
- Motion picture projectionists, provided that they do not have any other job duties besides the projectionist role
Employers can and do engage in elaborate twists of logic to get out of paying overtime wages to the workers on their payroll. For example, they might add the word “manager” to a cashier’s job title and expect him to work more than 40 hours per week without receiving overtime pay. A favorite trick of employers is to issue you a 1099 and say that you are an independent contractor; this not only gets them out of paying you overtime, but it also exempts the employer from providing health insurance benefits and withholding taxes so that the worker is responsible for their own healthcare costs and taxes, even if they work full-time for the employer and have no other source of income.
An employment lawyer can help you if your employer is not paying you the entire amount that the law entitles you to receive for your work. Your lawyer can also help you if your employer has misclassified you as an independent contractor.
Contact HKM Employment Attorneys, LLP About Wage and Hour Disputes in San Francisco
The San Francisco employment lawyers at HKM Employment Attorneys, LLP can help you resolve disputes over payment-related issues. Contact the employment lawyers at HKM Employment Attorneys LLP in San Francisco, California, to set up a consultation.