Are You Aware California Law Requires Employers to Pay Minors at Least the State’s Minimum Wage?

A minor is a person who is below the age of 18. In California, employers are allowed to hire minors, and with the shortage of candidates available for hire in some industries, many employers opt to hire minors. However, there are certain rules that employers must adhere to when it comes to hiring minors. For example, are you aware that California law requires employers to pay minors at least the state’s minimum wage? Read on to learn more.

California Law on Paying Minors at least the State’s Minimum Wage

While federal law permits workers who are not yet 20 years old to be paid a wage that is below the minimum wage during their initial three months, California law does not allow this. However, if an employee of any age is a “learner,” an employer may pay them 15% less than the minimum wage for their first 160 hours. A learner is someone who does not have work experience.

It is important to mention that if the learner exception applies and the federal “opportunity wage” also applies, a minor employee should be paid the higher amount, which is the state’s learner wage for the first 160 hours. This is because, when it comes to labor laws, the law that provides employees with the most protection is the one that applies. 

The “Opportunity Wage” Exemption

The FLSA permits employers in America to pay an “opportunity wage,” which is a wage that is less than the regular minimum wage, to employees who are below 20 years during their first 90 days of work. According to the FLSA, an employer can pay an employee who is below the age of 20 a minimum of not less than $4.25 per hour for their first 90 days of employment. After the employee reaches 20 years or 90 days, they must be paid at least the minimum wage.

What Does the Law Say Regarding Work Hours?

Also, do you know minor employees in California are not supposed to work unlimited hours? California law imposes strict restrictions on the number of hours a person under the age of 18 can work. Generally, minors between 14 and 15 are allowed to work three hours per school day outside school hours and eight hours on a non-school day, up to a maximum of 18 hours per week. 

Minors between 16 and 17 are allowed to work four hours a day on a school day and eight hours on a non-school day or a day before a non-school day up to a maximum of 48 hours per week. 

Lastly, minors between 12 and 13 can only be employed during school holidays and weekends, and when school is not in session, all minors are allowed to work up to eight hours per day. 

If an employer requires a minor employee to work more than the stated hours or on days the minor is not supposed to be working, legal action may be taken against the employer.

Reach Out to a California Employer Lawyer

If you want to learn more about the laws California employers are required to adhere to when hiring minors, reach out to a California employment lawyer near you.