Minimum Wage Lawyers in California - Your Guide to Exemptions

May 27, 2024

Have you ever questioned whether minimum wage laws apply to you? As an employee in California, you're generally entitled to at least the minimum wage under state and federal regulations. However, there are exemptions that California Minimum Wage Attorneys can help you understand. This article will explore the most common exemptions to minimum wage laws in California, focusing on certain professionals, outside salespeople, and computer software employees. You'll discover exactly who is exempt and who is still entitled to the minimum wage. Additionally, we'll examine recent changes to California's minimum wage laws. Continue reading to ensure you are being paid fairly and to learn whether minimum wage rules apply to your employment situation.

Employees Exempt From Minimum Wage in California

California has one of the highest minimum wages in the US at $15 per hour for companies with 26 or more employees. However, not all workers are entitled to the minimum wage. Certain occupations are exempt from the minimum wage law.

Some of the major exemptions include:

- Employees in professions where tips are customary, like waiters and bartenders. As long as their tips plus wages equal at least the minimum wage, the employer only has to pay $2.13 per hour.

- Independent contractors like freelancers, consultants, and gig economy workers. Since they are self-employed, minimum wage laws don't apply.

- Non-profit volunteers and interns. As long as the work is for educational or charitable purposes and does not replace a paid employee's job, volunteers and unpaid interns are exempt.

- Family members employed by small businesses. Parents, children, and spouses of business owners are not subject to minimum wage if the company has less than 10 employees.

Some additional exemptions exist for workers in agriculture, executive and administrative roles, and outside salespeople. The exact rules around exemptions can be complex, so if you have questions about whether you should be receiving minimum wage, it's best to contact the California Labor Commissioner's Office.

While the minimum wage law aims to provide fair pay and decent living standards for workers, the exemptions recognize that in some situations, strict enforcement of the minimum wage may be impractical or actually detrimental. Of course, employers should not abuse these exemptions to exploit workers when the minimum wage law was intended to apply.

California's minimum wage law applies to most employees in the state, but some workers are exempt. As an employee, it’s important to know if you qualify for an exemption so you’re not missing out on wages you’re owed.

Independent Contractors

Independent contractors, like freelancers or gig workers, aren’t considered employees under the law, so minimum wage doesn’t apply to them. The downside is they also miss out on benefits like overtime pay, unemployment insurance, and workers’ comp.

Certain Professionals

Some higher-earning professionals are also exempt, like doctors, lawyers, teachers, and accountants. If you’re in one of these roles, your employer doesn’t have to pay minimum wage or overtime. However, they still must pay you at least twice the state minimum wage each month.

Certain Salespeople

Salespeople who earn more than half their pay from commissions may be exempt from minimum wage. Their commissions must add up to at least one and a half times the minimum wage each month. If not, the employer must make up the difference.


As you can see, minimum wage exemptions typically apply to independent workers, highly skilled professionals, and salespeople with significant commissions. If you don’t fall into these categories, minimum wage and overtime rules should apply to your job. Don’t hesitate to report violations to the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement. You have rights as a California employee, so make sure you understand them fully.


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