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Employee rights in California

California employment law ensures that all employees are given minimum protections regarding pay and breaks. These employee rights are important for workers to understand so that employers cannot treat them unfairly without consequence. However, the things employees are used to receiving may not be required under the law, such as vacation time. Also, some things, like overtime, are not given to every employee.

Employers must compensate their employees with a sum that at least equals minimum wage, in most cases. Unless exempt, employers must also pay overtime equal to 150 percent of the usual wage for every hour in excess of eight in one day or 40 hours per week. Employees must get 200 percent of their usual wage for any work that exceeds 12 hours in one day. Many employers offer holiday pay, but time off for holidays, sick days or vacations are not required by law.

Employers who do offer paid vacations must include compensation for any time not taken in final paychecks when employees quit. This does not apply to unused sick days if offered by employers. As long as employees give at least 72 hours' notice before quitting, they are entitled to any unpaid wages on their last day. Anyone who is fired or laid off is entitled to their wages at that time. In most cases, employers must also provide a paid 10-minute break per four hours of work and an unpaid half-hour break per five hours of work.

Workers who think that their employer is in violation of the law might not know how to proceed or fear reprisal. An attorney could bring the issue and the applicable law to the employer's attention and work toward rectifying the situation. If employers are unwilling to compensate their employees or otherwise address the issue, an attorney could take the matter to court.

Source: calbar.ca.gov, "What are my Rights as an Employee?", October 15, 2014

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