California Wage and Hour Laws

California’s wage and hour laws rank among the toughest in the nation. When federal law sets a standard, California law often goes beyond that standard, requiring more of employers. With dual sets of regulations, compliance is a challenge for California employers.

This section explains federal and state wage and hour laws. You will learn how federal and state law interrelate and which prevails when provisions conflict. It thoroughly discusses all sources of wage and hour law:

  • The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
  • The California Labor Code
  • Wage Orders created by California’s Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC)

The section also explains:

  • The 17 California Wage Orders and how to determine which apply to your business
  • How the law is enforced
  • Requirements for record keeping
  • Penalties for noncompliance

For information on how specific industries may be regulated, see Wage and Hour Requirements for Specific Industries.​​​​

  • State Versus Federal Law: Which Prevails?

    State Versus Federal Law: Which Prevails?As a California employer, you are subject to labor laws and regulations from the state and federal governments and from other jurisdictions that legislate on employment matters.   More »

  • California Wage Orders

    California Wage OrdersCalifornia’s IWC regulates wages and hours of nonexempt employees by creating documents called Wage Orders. Wage Orders are numbered 1 through 17, with each number followed by the year in which the Wage Order was last amended and reprinted.  More »

    ​Read​ about a 2014 agency action.
  • Employee Classification

    Employee ClassificationTo determine which IWC Wage Order covers an employee or group of employees, you must first determine if your business is covered by one of the industry orders.  More »

  • Wage Order Listings

    Wage Order ListingsThis section lists California’s 17 Wage Orders, along with a description of the industries or occupations covered by each. These descriptions are substantially the same as they appear in the Wage Orders.   More »

  • Wage and Hour Enforcement and Penalties

    Wage and Hour Enforcement and PenaltiesPenalties may be assessed for violating the Labor Code’s wage and hour provisions. The Division of Labor Standards Enforcement is charged with enforcing these laws and will adjudicate wage claims.  More »

    ​​Read about new 2015 legislation.
  • Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

    Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) includes provisions defining minimum wage and permissible subminimum wage levels, maximum hours of work and overtime pay, restrictions on employment of minors and categories of exempt employees.  More »

    ​R​ead about a new 2015 agency action.