California Takes Hopeful Step to Raise the Minimum Wage to a Living Wage

The California minimum wage is set to increase to $9.00 an hour, effective July 1, 2014. This week, though, the State Senate approved more a more drastic measure to increase minimum wages. On May 29, the State Senate approved a measure that would slowly but surely raise the minimum up to $13 an hour in Gear-and-Gavel_black2017. The bill is being sponsored by Senator Mark Leno of San Francisco, who wants to help the 7.9 million Californians who are currently earning minimum wages to climb out of poverty.

Meanwhile, also on Thursday, Seattle’s Councilmembers approved a plan to raise the Seattle minimum wage to $15 by April 2015, which would make it the highest minimum wage in the U.S.

Both hopeful measures have come in the midst of continued and growing protests by fast food workers around the country demanding livable wages of $15 per hour. The campaign seems to be working, with 34 states currently considering minimum wage increases. Chicago also just introduced a bill to adopt a $15 minimum wage.

Keeping track of the minimum wage in California is especially important because its impact goes beyond minimum wage earners.  In fact, all non-exempt employees are entitled to be paid at least the minimum wage for all work performed. This is true even if employees are not paid on an hourly basis, but instead are paid a set amount for each task performed (referred to as a piece-rate basis), by commission, by tips, or other method. This means that in most cases, employees should be paid at least the minimum wage for things like their prep time, travel time, completing paperwork, and other tasks that employers frequently choose not to compensate.

Minimum wage increases also impact workers in various exempt, salaried positions that are subject to minimum salary requirements, which are based on the minimum wage. This includes employees who are subject to the executive, administrative and/or professional exemptions, as well as inside salespeople.

Attorneys at Hunter Pyle Law support the movement for higher minimum wages, and are also committed to ensuring that workers are paid properly for all their time worked. If you have questions about whether you are being paid properly, please call us at 510.444.4400 or email us at for a free consultation.


Patrick McGreevy, California Senate votes to raise minimum wage to $13 an hour in 2017, Los Angeles Times, May 29, 2014 (available at; last accessed on May 30, 2014).

Ruby De Luna, Seattle Steps Closer to Setting Highest Minimum Wage in U.S., KUOW.ORG, May 30, 2014 (available at; last accessed on May 30, 2014).

Peter Robison and Michael B. Marois, Minimum Wage Increases Advance from California to Seattle, Bloomberg, May 29, 2014 (available at; last accessed on May 30, 2014).