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Complete Guide to California's City and County Minimum Wage Laws

Contributor: The Combined HR Team

December 8th, 2023 | 5 min. read

By Tony Calavitta

Complete Guide to California's City and County Minimum Wage Laws

On January 1st, 2024, the state-mandated minimum wage in California will rise from $15.50 to $16.00 per hour. For employers across the state, this means making necessary payroll adjustments.

Straightforward enough, right?

Well, here's where it gets tricky:

Apart from the statewide minimum wage in California, many cities and counties also have wage requirements, many of which are higher than $16.00 per hour. In these localities, employers are required to observe the rate of pay that is most beneficial to their employees (aka the highest regulated wage rate).

Simply put, just updating your payroll for California’s new minimum wage increase may not be enough to keep your business compliant with the state’s complex landscape of wage and hour regulations. Rather, you need to make sure that the minimum wage you pay your employees matches the rate set by the area your business operates in.

So, at the start of 2024, should your minimum wage rate be the state-mandated $16.00 per hour? Or should it be higher to meet a stricter local ordinance?

At Combined, we recognize the challenges that these local wage laws bring to businesses like yours. And that's why we've developed this comprehensive guide, detailing the specifics of all local minimum wage rates across California.

By reading to the end, you will have all the information you need to confidently answer what your minimum wage rate in 2024 should be.

Local minimum wage laws in California

In California, minimum wage laws are not uniform across the state.

While the statewide minimum wage in California is set at $16.00 per hour for 2024, there's an additional layer to it that employers need to be aware of – current local wage laws.

Local wage laws, set by individual city or county governments, often prescribe minimum wages that are higher than the state's baseline. This means that the minimum wage employers must implement in certain cities or counties is actually higher than the statewide $16.00 per hour.

Why do local minimum wage laws vary in California?

The geography of California is extremely diverse – sun-soaked beaches, snow-capped mountains, rural farmlands, and bustling metropolitan centers all neighbor each other. California’s dynamic environment contributes to an equally dynamic range of economic conditions between different localities.

For Example:

According to the 2023 Cost of Living Index, the living wage for a family of four in California is $110, 255 per year. Keeping this in mind, the average cost of living in San Francisco, CA is estimated to be 25% higher than the state average whereas that of living in Bakersfield, CA falls at 23% lower than the state average.

This means that for a family of four to live comfortably in San Francisco, CA it would cost approximately $138,000 per year and in Bakersfield, CA it would cost approximately $85,000 per year. So, the difference in living wages between two California cities located less than 300 miles apart, is almost $53,000.

That’s a huge difference!

These types of economic discrepancies existing between California cities and counties are the reason for variations in local wage laws. Rather than adhering to a single statewide standard, local governments tailor their minimum wage rates to align with the distinct needs and economic situations of their areas.

What are the local minimum wage laws in California?

Now that you know what local wage laws are and why they are operative throughout California, you are probably wondering whether they impact the rate you need to pay your employees.

To make determining this easy for you, we've compiled an updated list of all local minimum wage rates in California that exceed the statewide regulation.

Local minimum wage laws in California by city and county

 BY CITY:

MINIMUM WAGE RATE:

EFFECTIVE DATE:

ADDITIONAL CONDITIONS:

Alameda, CA

$16.52 per hour

July 1, 2023

 

Belmont, CA

$17.35 per hour

January 1, 2024

 

Berkeley, CA

$18.07 per hour

July 1st, 2023

 

Burlingame, CA

$17.03 per hour

January 1, 2024

 

Cupertino, CA

$17.75 per hour

January 1, 2024

 

Daly City, CA

$16.62 per hour

January 1, 2024

 

East Palo Alto, CA

$17.00 per hour

January 1, 2024

 

El Cerrito, CA

$17.92 per hour

January 1, 2024

 

Emeryville, CA

$18.67 per hour

July 1st, 2023

 

Foster City, CA

$17.00 per hour

January 1, 2024

 

Fremont, CA

$16.80 per hour

July 1st, 2023

 

Half Moon Bay, CA

$17.01 per hour

January 1, 2024

 

Hayward, CA

$16.00 per hour (Small Employers)

$16.90 per hour (Large Employers)

January 1, 2024

Small Employers: 25 or fewer employees
Large Employers: 26 or more employees

Los Altos, CA

$17.75 per hour

January 1, 2024

 

Los Angeles, CA

$16.78 per hour

July 1st, 2023

$19.73 per hour for hotels with 60+ rooms

Malibu, CA

$16.90 per hour

July 1st, 2023

 

Menlo Park, CA

$16.70 per hour

January 1, 2024

 

Milpitas, CA

$17.20 per hour

July 1st, 2023

 

Mountain View, CA

$18.75 per hour

January 1, 2024

 

Novato, CA

$16.04 per hour (Small Businesses)

$16.60 per hour (Large Businesses)

$16.86 per hour (Very Large Businesses)

January 1, 2024

Small Businesses: 1-25 employees
Large Businesses: 26-99 employees
Very Large Businesses: 100+ employees

Oakland, CA

$16.50 per hour

January 1, 2024

$17.94 per hour for hotel workers with health benefits
$23.91 per hour for hotel workers without health benefits

Palo Alto, CA

$17.80 per hour

January 1, 2024

 

Pasadena, CA

$16.93 per hour

July 1st, 2023

 

Petaluma, CA

$17.45 per hour

January 1, 2024

 

Redwood City, CA

$17.70 per hour

January 1, 2024

 

Richmond, CA

$16.17 per hour

January 1, 2023

 

San Carlos, CA

$16.87 per hour

January 1, 2024

 

San Diego, CA

$16.85 per hour

January 1, 2024

 

San Francisco, CA

$18.07 per hour

July 1, 2023

 

San Jose, CA

$17.55 per hour

January 1, 2024

 

San Mateo, CA

$17.35 per hour

January 1, 2024

 

Santa Clara, CA

$17.75 per hour

January 1, 2024

 

Santa Monica, CA

$16.90 per hour

July 1, 2023

$19.73 per hour for hotel workers (see definition)

Santa Rosa, CA

$17.45 per hour

January 1, 2024

 

Sonoma, CA

$16.56 per hour (Small Employers)

$17.60 per hour (Large Employers)

January 1, 2024

Small Employers: 25 or fewer employees
Large Employers: 26 or more employees

South San Francisco, CA

$17.25 per hour

January 1, 2024

 

Sunnyvale, CA

$18.55 per hour

January 1, 2024

 

West Hollywood, CA

$19.08 per hour

July 1, 2023

 

BY COUNTY:

MINIMUM WAGE RATE:

EFFECTIVE DATE:

ADDITIONAL CONDITIONS:

Los Angeles County, CA (unincorporated)

$16.90 per hour

July 1, 2023

 

San Mateo County, CA (unincorporated)

$17.06 per hour

January 1, 2024

 

If your business is located in a city of county on this list, you will need to observe the current local minimum wage legislation for that area when paying your employees.

This article provides general information about minimum wage rates in California and is not intended as legal advice. While we aim to keep the content accurate and updated, Combined does not guarantee its completeness or reliability. For specific legal advice or the most current information, please consult a legal professional or visit the California Department of Industrial Relations website.

Want more information on all of 2024's most critical compliance updates?

Download our free compliance guide or watch our latest recorded webinar hosted by legal expert, Jason T. Yu, Partner with the law offices of Snell and Wilmer, for a complete breakdown of California's recent regulation changes. 

Take the next steps toward compliance with California’s minimum wage laws

Now you are equipped with the latest on all of California’s local wage laws. But the real task is ensuring your business is fully equipped to comply with them.

So, how do you translate this knowledge into action?

That's where Combined comes into play!

We're more than just a source of information – we're here to actively support you through these upcoming wage and hour changes, as well as those yet to come. With our expertise in HR and compliance, we can help your business not only meet but confidently navigate the complexities of local wage laws.

Let's  tackle 2024’s compliance changes together – with Combined, your peace of mind is just a conversation away!compliance cta circle 400x400

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This article is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel for legal advice.