On Jan. 1, 2019, California moved one step closer to its ultimate goal of having the minimum wage set at $15-an-hour. The federal minimum wage is still $7.25, but the state supersedes it because it is a higher wage. Employers with 25 or fewer employees are now required to pay a minimum of $11 an hour, while employers who have 26 or more employees must pay $12 an hour. This change marks the third step in a five-year plan to eventually increase the minimum wage rate statewide. The five-year plan began in January 2017 and will end in January 2023.

There are already several California cities that have a minimum wage that exceeds the state amount. Most of the cities in California that have a minimum wage at or above $15-an-hour are located in or around the Silicon Valley. According to the UC Berkeley Labor Center, the cities with the highest minimum wage are Emeryville at $15.69 (for companies that have 56 employees or more), Mountain View at $15.65 and Sunnyvale also at $15.65-an-hour. The following cities are already at a minimum wage rate of $15-an-hour: Berkeley, El Cerrito, Los Altos, Palo Alto, Richmond, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara. Restaurant owners are also not allowed use waitstaff tips as credit toward their minimum wage obligations. We will have to wait and see what will happen when the state minimum wage reaches $15-an-hour.

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