Simplifying Minimum Wage in the Golden State

Although there are some exceptions, most employees in California must be paid the minimum wage. It is well known that employers must comply with federal and state minimum wage laws. Less known is that employers must comply with local (regional) city and county minimum wage laws, which may be more generous than their federal or state counterparts. Understandably, the mishmash of such laws is confusing for employers, who struggle to know which wage requirement applies to them.

Let’s start with the basics:

First, effective January 1, 2022, the minimum wage in California is $14.00 per hour for employers with 25 employees or less and $15.00 per hour for employers with 26 employees or more. Employer size matters.

Second, employers must follow the minimum wage rate that is the most beneficial to employees when the federal, state, and local minimum wage rates differ (or conflict) with each other. California’s minimum wage rate is more generous to employees than the federal minimum wage rate; as such, all employers in California must pay at the very minimum California’s minimum wage rate. But the road doesn’t end there. Employers must consider if a city or county has adopted a higher minimum wage rate—and, if so, employers must pay such rate.

How can you easily determine what your city’s or county’s minimum wage rate is? The UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education publishes a handy chart, which can be found here. In addition, employers can review the chart below:

City or County Minimum Wage Rate
Alameda $15.00 (+ annual increase adjustment, not to exceed 5% effective July 1, 2022)
Belmont $16.20
Berkeley $16.32 (+Consumer Price Index [CPI] effective July 1, 2022)
Burlingame $15.60
Cupertino (indexed to CPI) $16.40
Daly City (indexed to CPI) $15.53
El Cerrito  (indexed to CPI) $16.37
Emeryville (indexed to CPI) (effective from July 1, 2021) $17.13
Half Moon Bay (indexed to CPI) $15.56
Hayward (indexed to CPI) $14.52 (25 or fewer employees) and
$15.56 (26 or more employees)
Fremont (Effective July 1, 2022, both large and small employers will be subject to the same minimum wage increase defined by the local CPI) $15.00 (25 or fewer employees)
$15.25 (26+ employees)
Los Altos (indexed to CPI) $16.40
Menlo Park (indexed to CPI) $15.75
Los Angeles City (from July 1, 2021) $15.00 (to $16.04 effective July 1, 2022)
Los Angeles County (Unincorporated Areas) (from July 1, 2021) $15.00 (to $16.04 effective July 1, 2022)
Malibu (indexed to CPI) (effective from July 1, 2021) $15.00
Milpitas (effective from July 1, 2021) (indexed to CPI) $15.65
Mountain View (indexed to CPI) $17.10
Novato (two larger amounts indexed to CPI) $15.00 (25 or fewer employees)
$15.53 (26+ employees)
$15.77 (100+ employees)
Oakland (indexed to CPI) $15.06
Palo Alto (indexed to CPI) $16.45
Pasadena  (effective from July 1, 2021) $15.00
Petaluma (indexed to CPI) $15.85
Redwood City (indexed to CPI) $16.20
Richmond (indexed to CPI) $15.54
San Carlos (indexed to CPI) $15.77
San Diego $15.00
San Francisco City and County (indexed to CPI) (effective from July 1, 2021) $16.32
San Jose  (indexed to CPI) $16.20
San Leandro (effective from July 1, 2020) $15.00
San Mateo (indexed to CPI) $16.20
Santa Clara (indexed to CPI) $16.40
Santa Monica (effective from July 1, 2021) $15.00
Santa Rosa (indexed to CPI) $15.85
Sonoma $15.00 (25 or fewer employees) and
$16.00 (26+ employees)
South San Francisco (indexed to CPI) $15.80
Sunnyvale (indexed to CPI) $17.10
West Hollywood $15.00 (49 or fewer employees) (January 1, 2022)
$16.00 (July 1, 2022)
$15.50 (50+ employees) (January 1, 2022)
$16.50 (July 1, 2022)

If you need assistance to further understand how this impacts your business, please contact us at

This material is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor does it create a client-lawyer relationship between MNK Law and any recipient. Recipients should consult with counsel before taking any actions based on the information contained within this material.