California’s Minimum Wage Set to Increase in 2024, Boosting Earnings for Workers Across the State

Elgin Nelson

California is poised to witness a surge in its minimum wage, reaching $16 per hour starting January 1, 2024, as announced by the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR). The impact will be even more substantial for employees in select cities and counties across the state, thanks to local ordinances that promise higher earnings.

Taking a closer look at some of the affected cities, West Hollywood is set to witness a minimum wage of $19.08 as of this year, while Santa Monica will see a rise to $16.90. These changes mark a crucial step in California’s ongoing efforts to address wage disparities and ensure fair compensation for its workforce.

For those employed in the fast-food sector, the wage landscape will see an additional spike, with the minimum wage climbing to $20 per hour from April 1, 2024. This change comes on the heels of Governor Gavin Newsom’s approval of legislation AB 1228, encompassing alterations to working conditions, including aspects such as health, safety, and training.

According to the DIR, the minimum wage is not negotiable and stands as an obligatory standard for all employers in California. It explicitly states, “The minimum wage is an obligation of the employer and cannot be waived by any agreement, including collective bargaining agreements.”

While the wage hike extends across the entire state, certain cities and counties have taken the initiative to enact ordinances that go beyond the statewide minimum. 

As clarified by the DIR, “The employer must follow the stricter standard; that is, the one that is the most beneficial to the employee.” This means that in cities where the local minimum wage surpasses the state’s requirements, employers are obligated to pay the higher local minimum wage.

“Similarly, if a local entity (city or county) has adopted a higher minimum wage, employees must be paid the local wage where it is higher than the state or federal minimum wage rates,” the Department of Industrial Relations says.

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