Understanding California’s Child Labor Laws

child labor laws

Child labor laws are important to understand before hiring, but there are reasons it can become difficult. For example, young people are interested in getting to work as early as possible so that they can get money to buy things they love such as video games, and cars. This makes them far more likely to lie about their age so they can work.

There are certain restrictions on the age at which a person can start working to earn money, however.


What Does The Law Say

The law also describes the amount of money and the number of hours one can work in a day. There are also clear guidelines on who can control the money after you start working. You may control the money or your parent can be in charge. Labor laws even go further to explain the number of hours you can work in a week.

At the end of the 19th century and the American labor laws came into existence to protect the American child against exploitation due to an early introduction to work. At the time, American factories were in need of labor and children were exploited to work in the factories and were paid low wages. The primary source of the labor laws can be accessed in the first labor standards act.

According to the act, children under the age of 12 cannot be employed under any circumstance unless acting. Children from 12 to 16 years can be employed in certain workplaces but for a limited amount of hours. Children between 16 and 18 years can work an unlimited amount of hours in nonhazardous work environments.

There are restrictions on their employment. For example, they can be allowed to work as child actors, newspaper delivery and employment by parents. If children are working in agricultural employment, children as young as 12 years can work unlimited hours if parents give them permission.


Are Restrictions Nation Wide?

There are also different restrictions put in place by states. Each state has its own regulation when it comes to child labor regulations. It is necessary to check out your state.

The labor laws concerning children are tight in the United States, but there are concerns where employers utilize the leniency provided in the American employment where they expose underage children to hard labor for more than 10 hours. Children are also exposed to dangerous pesticides which affect their lives. In some cases, they end up working for more than 10 hours in a day which leads them to drop out of school.

Many watch groups are concerned about the child labor in the agricultural employment. Due to the law allowing parents to control children earnings, it can be a source of dispute during cases such as divorce. If you are an employer willing to employee children, you should consult with your local attorney.

Discrimination Against Felons


A new law in California affects the way past criminal (including felons) records can be used by employers during background screening. The law took effect in January 1, 2014 and protects ex-offenders such as felons, among others, when it comes to job hunting. It dictates what legally the employers can discover and use during the job processing.

It prohibits employers from asking about or even seeking information about criminal conviction which have been committed by the people looking for employment. Employers breaking the law by seeking the information risk civil penalties and misdemeanor criminal charges. The law also allows the convicted person to get the case expunged sooner.


Labor Code

The new law seeks to amend California labor code hence prohibiting employers from asking for disclosure. It prohibits the employers from using the criminal records to determine employment of people. It also protects citizens from arrest which did not result in conviction from being applied against someone to block him in seeking employment.

It does not even require use of a pending case to determine eligibility of a job opportunity.



Conviction which has been expunged will no longer be used to determine eligibility of a person to get employed in California.

The law covers both employers in the private sector as well as the public sector from using the information to block people from accessing employment opportunities. If the case has been ordered dismissed or sealed by the court, it is not supposed to be used as a basis to deny an applicant employment in the state of California according to the law.


Employer Access To Records

There are several exemptions where the employer can access the criminal records. They include cases where the employer will access firearms in his line of duty. If the applicant has been convicted of a crime which prohibits him from holding a given position, then the employer can ask for the criminal records and deny the person employment basing on the prohibition put against him due to the criminal conviction.


Expungement Limitations

There are several limitations to obtaining expungement. They include state prison sentence, violation of sex crimes among other offenses as stipulated in the law. If you fall under such a category, then it will be hard for you to access the benefits of no disclosure as per the new law in California.

The law expands and clarifies the penal code sections 1003.4 where expungement is allowed under California law. The law clarifies that if the person is granted expungement, he is cleared of all damages which can result from the case.


Employee Dress Codes and Clothing 

dress codes

A private employer is allowed by law to enforce dress codes on employees. The law allows the employer to rely on the basis of safety for him to impose the regulations. Some of the dress codes the employer can impose as a way of enhancing the safety of employees include jewelry requirements, grooming, and clothing. You should be careful as an employer not to be seen as a discriminator or harasser when imposing these dress codes.

You should as well avoid imposing laws which can endanger or even kill the morale of the workers in your organization.


Dos of Employee Dress Codes and Clothing

Create a policy and distribute it in writing so that all the employees in your organization can see it. The policy should be based on business reasons. Some of the reasons include promotion of the company image and reflecting the company’s culture.
You can impose the rules basing on safety reasons. For example, if a worker works in the kitchen, they should tie their hair back and cover it for hygiene reasons. An industrial worker should tie his hair back to avoid accidents.

The business should clearly describe business casual attire. You can specify if your organization will prefer sweat suits, jeans or any other attire which you consider inappropriate.

The policy should apply to all employees. However, employees who require exceptions for disability reasons should be considered.

Some of the challenges which face employee dress codes and clothing include charges where employees can argue the dress code is discriminating on the basis of ethnicity, race, gender, sex disability, origin, and religion.

Don’ts of Employee Dress Codes and Clothing


If employees are required to dress in a revealing way, they may sue for harassment.

Gender Discrimination

California makes it unlawful to prohibit employees from wearing pants based on gender.

Uniform Costs

Employees are not required to buy their safety gear. The employer is required to buy the safety gear for the employees at their workplaces. If you have a workplace such as industry where employees are required to wear steel-toed boots, then the company should make plans and pay for the boots to the employees.

Religious Practices

An employer is allowed to prohibit body piercing, tattoos and other practices which may go against the organization branding. If you have practices which go against the company’s values or mission, the employer can prohibit them during his work time. Slogans or images offensive to another employee can be as well denied at workplaces. For instance, Confederate flags and slogans can be denied.

Legal Implications Of A Missed Rest Period

rest period

According to the current labor laws of California, the employer must permit nonexempt employees a rest period in the middle of each work period. Every employee is entitled to a 10-minute break for every four-hour period. In fact, anything more than a 2-hour period is considered a `major fraction’ of the four-hour period.

Most importantly, the law requires that the employer pays for the rest breaks. If the employee works during the break, he or she is entitled to additional compensation. However, those employees who work for less than one-half hours are not entitled to rest.


Any person employed in executive or administrative capacity may have their rest periods limited under certain circumstances. In addition, swimmers, skaters, dancers and other employees engaged in strenuous activities must have additional interim rest breaks on top of the general rest periods. Such periods shall be utilized for rehearsal.

In pursuant to labor code 1030, the employees of on-site occupations like mining, logging, and construction can have continuous work operations to avoid disruptions of the work flow. However, the employer is required to schedule for rest periods that coincide with the breaks set forth by the law. Alternatively, the employer can choose to compensate the employees for the missed 10 minute periods.

Rest periods should only take place in the immediate work area or other designated areas by the employer. The employer is required to provide suitable resting facilities like toilets.

Legal Consequences On Rest Periods

In the event that the employer fails to give an employee resting breaks, the employer must pay an additional hour of pay. The rate is based on the regular rate of pay for each workday. If the employer refuses to pay for such breaks, you can file a wage claim. This is done at the Labor Commissioner’s Office.

You can also file a lawsuit in court against your employer with the help of a good attorney. The claim must be filed within 3 years of the alleged rest period violation. When the court rules in the employee’s favor, the DLSE will have the court enter the order, decision or award (ODA) against the employer.

According to the Industrial Welfare Commission, rest periods should not be confused with the time taken by the employee to use toilet facilities. In fact, the employer cannot limit the time an employee is absent from his or her work station when using such facilities. If your employer threatens you for filing a claim, you should file a retaliation complaint with the Labor Commissioner’s Office.

Right To Inspect Personnel Files 

personnel files

As of January 1, 2013, California Laws gives present and former employees (or their representatives) the right to inspect personnel files and get a copy of the information from the employer. Such records include data that relates to their performance, or any issue that concerns the employee.


The law (Labor Code Section 1185.5) stipulates that the inspection must be granted at realistic times and intervals within 30 calendar days from the day the company receives a written request. On receipt of the application, the employer has a legal obligation to make a copy of the records available at a cost that does not exceed the actual reproduction cost.

Contents of “Personal Files” 
The law specifies two types of documents that employers have a legal obligation to provide to current and former workers (or sanctioned representative) in personal files:

  • Records that relate to the employee’s performance
    • Records that relate to any grievances about the employee

The California Labor Commissioner has elaborated the categories to include aspects such as attendance records, performance reviews, employment application and any other file that determines the worker’s qualification for extra compensation, promotion and disciplinary actions (or even termination).

Penalty For Failing To Comply With The Law 
If an employer declines to permit a current or former authorized representative to copy or inspect personal records within the specified times, or the duration agreed through mutual agreement, the complainant/the Labor Commissioner has the right to recover a penalty of $750 from the company.


The worker may, nonetheless, proceed with legal action for injunctive relief to get compliance, and stands the chance to recover costs as well as attorney fees through the court process.

Verification Of Identity Employee 
The law requires the employer to comply with just one request per year to inspect/ receive a copy of their personal requests per employee. The employer is allowed to mail these as long as the employee reimburses his or her postal expenses.


The employer is required to take the necessary steps to authenticate the identity of the asker of the records of personal files. The company is also free to redact the name of a nonsupervisory employee prior to availing the records.

Exempt Records 
The Right to inspect personnel files doesn’t include the records that relate to the inquiry of possible crime, reports, letters of reference and ratings. Similarly, it does not apply to the records the employer obtained before the employee’s employment, those that were obtained in relation to a promotional exam or prepared by recognizable examination committee members.


Disability Rights In California 

disability rights

Disability rights in California define disability as a condition that can hinder major life activities.
The California Fair Employment and Housing Act, the Disabled Persons Act, and the Unruh Civil Rights Act are state laws that protect an individual from any form of discrimination based on disability. The Act further covers disabilities laws that individuals encounter now, had in the past, and may have in the future.

What is Disability Discrimination at The Workplace?
This occurs when an employer treats a qualified individual unfavorably because of disability. The discrimination can also occur from the perception the employer has about your ability to handle simple instructions at the office. The employer may also not want to offer certain assistance to the people with disability such as special spaces for parking as required.

What Can Be Done To Avoid Disability Discrimination at the Workplace?
All employers should place the necessary rules and regulations to prevent disability discrimination in the workplaces. These rules may be applied during recruitment, salary determinations, training, promotion, termination from the workplace of people with disabilities.


The adjustments can also include providing physical office equipment such as special chairs. They, employers, can also adjust their duties to suit them but also not changing the functions essential to the specific role.

Types of Disability Discrimination

  1. Direct Discrimination 
    The direct discrimination involves treating an individual with a disability differently from other people. For instance, in an organization, an employer may choose not to employ a disabled person due to her disability. Another example may occur if a person is prohibited to access certain public facilities such as a restaurant due to a blindness disability and uses a guide dog.

    b. Indirect Discrimination 
    This discrimination occurs where the rules and policies of a company apply to all employees but are different or have an unfair effect on the disabled individuals. For instance, if a public building has only one way to enter by use of stairs only favors the people who can walk, while those who use wheelchairs would not be able to access the building.

Know Your Rights
Discrimination of any kind is not only unacceptable but also punishable by law depending on where you are in the world. Disability rights are an essential tool to counter the disabled persons who might not be treated right due to their disability. If is important to consult the relevant authority when you encounter any form of disability discrimination for the necessary action to be taken.

Companion Animal Laws in California 

companion animal

In California, there are rules set to regulate the use of a companion animal in different places. For example, the law requires public places to admit psychiatric service dogs and other emotional
support animals in different public places, such as at work.


If you are disabled, the law allows you to go with your help animal to public places and relax. If you have been prevented from accessing a public utility due to having an animal companion, you can decide to use and those who are denying you your right can be fined. You need a
qualified lawyer for you to know whether rights have been violated.


Some of the things you need to know about the law include the following:


Laws in California Protecting Companion Animals

There are several factors which determine on how the law can be applied. For instance, it depends on the kind of animal involved. How the animal helps the person involved also matters. The place involved or the setting where you need to have your assistance animal will also determine the way the law can be applied.


What is a Service Dog? 

A service dog is trained to help a disabled person in performing tasks such as picking dropped items, protecting the disabled person, pulling a wheel chair or even offering minimal protection to the involved person. The animals which can qualify under this law are only dog species. This is simply because they are the only animals which can be trained to offer these helpful services.

What is “Psychiatric” Service Dog? 

The law defines a psychiatric dog as an animal which has special training to offer a mentally challenged person some kind of help. The service dog is offered the same treatment under the law just like any other service dog which can offer people with a disability some form of help.


Tasks which service dogs can perform:

  • Coaxing people with depression out of bed at specific times
  • Responding to people panic attacks
  • Alerting people with poor judgment of danger


What is an Emotional Support Animal? 

The dog has no training to offer some form of help to the affected individual. The individual draws some form of satisfaction from the dog by simply looking at it or spending time together.

How The Law Protects Companion Animals

The law in California offers the dog’s full access to all public places so that they can assist their owners. It is necessary to check out the law or seek advice from a lawyer for you to know your rights pertaining your service dog in the workplace.

Paid Sick Leave in California

paid sick leave

To ensure that the employee’s rights are protected, the State of California has introduced paid sick leave. Workers should have fun and be healthy in an environment where their rights are considered the topmost priority.

Due to the lifestyle people follow and stress, anyone could fall ill, and coming to work when you are sick sometimes is impossible.

What is Paid Sick Leave?

These are additional leaves that are added to an employee’s leave fund. This makes them eligible to take off from work when they are sick and get paid for the particular days that they could not be present.

Paid sick leave is for the benefit of the employee so that they can stay back home and relax for the days that they have been sick. It is every working individual’s right, and the employer has to enable sick leave for each and every employee that works in their organization.

The Paid Sick Leave law in California was amended on the 3rd of April, 2016, enabling sick leave for working individuals, whether on a full time or part time basis.

How to Get Paid Sick Leave?

You are entitled to paid sick leave if you are a full time or part time employee in any organization. The sick leave policy in California states that an employee who works for 30 hours is entitled to 1 hour of paid sick leave. Every employee who has joined an organization after July 1, 2015, is eligible to get a paid sick leave.

The employee who works on a full-time basis can avail up to 8 days of paid sick leave in a year according to the calculation for counting paid sick leave days. If an employee wants to roll over their paid sick leave for next year they can often do that. Employees can apply for sick leave in writing or ask for a leave verbally.

When Do You Gain Sick Leave?

An employee who has completed 90 days of employment in an organization is eligible for paid sick leave. Following are the conditions, under which an employee can ask for Paid Sick Leave,

  • If they fall ill.
  • To go for a preventive check up.
  • For a family members’ health check up.
  • If an employee is a victim of sexual assault or domestic violence.

These leaves are to ensure and protect an employee’s working right. It makes them feel safe to work in such healthy atmosphere.

If an employee faces discrimination or ill behavior from their employer upon asking for sick leave, they can file a complaint against their employer.

What to Know About Lactation Accommodation

lactation accommodation

Lactation accommodation is a hot topic currently. In accordance with section 1030 of the Labor Code, every employer, including the state and any political subdivision, must provide a reasonable amount of time for a break to accommodate an employee wishing to express breast milk for a baby child.

The time gap, if possible, should be performed simultaneously with any break time already provided to the employee. You do not need to pay for the break time for an employee who does not work at the same time as the rest time allowed for the employee, in accordance with the pay scheme of the Commission on Industrial Welfare.

What Kind of Accommodations Should Be Available?

The employer must make reasonable efforts to provide the employee with the opportunity to use the premises or another place, except for the toilet rack, in the immediate vicinity of the worker’s work area, so that the employee expresses milk alone. This could be in a room or place that there may be a place where the employee usually works if she otherwise meets the requirements of this section.

The employer is not required to provide a break for employees for lactation accommodation if this can seriously disrupt the employer.

Rest Period for Mothers

If the employer does not provide the employee with a rest period in accordance with the applicable order of the IWC, the employer pays the employee one additional hour of payment at the normal employee payment rate for each working day so that the rest period is not provided according to Section 226.7 of the Labor Code.

Thus, if the employer does not provide all the rest periods required on a business day, the employee is entitled to one additional hour of payment for that work day, rather than one additional hour of payment for each rest period that was not provided during this working day.

The rest period is defined as “net” ten minutes, which means that the rest period begins when the worker reaches the area away from the work area that is suitable for rest. Employers must provide suitable recreational facilities that must be available to employees during working hours in an area separate from the toilet rooms.

Retaliation Against Mothers

In addition, any employee who is a victim of retaliation for either claiming the right to housing for lactation or complaining to the Labor Commissioner about the inability of the employer to provide this housing can file a compensation claim in accordance with section 98.7 of the Labor Code.

The employee must file an application for reimbursement within six months of retaliation.

Tips and Gratuities Under California Labor Law

tips and gratuities

If you often receive tips and gratuities, you need to know your legal rights, especially if your employer is involved. Tips are basically the money left by a patron over the amount due for goods and services rendered. They often come in different forms, mostly in the form of cash.


However, when the customer pays his or her bills with a credit card and the payment includes tips, it is expected that the employee pay you the full amount not later than your next regular pay after the day the credit card payment was authorized. If you think your employer is withholding your tips, deducting credit processing fee from the tip, or considering it as part of the regular rate of pay for overtime calculation, then you might need an attorney to represent you.

Current rules for credit card processing fees in California

In California, employees are protected by labor sections 350 through 356. The Labor Code section 351 prohibits the employer from deducting any fee from the tip or credits our time against the money they owe you. They are required to pay the full amount paid on the credit card. No deductions are to be made; you are entitled to the full payment.

Tips are not part of the wage

Under California law, tips and gratuities are not technically, part of wage paid by the employer and therefore are not considered part of your regular rate of pay when calculating overtime. Unlike other federal laws, California law requires that an employee pay the overtime based on the regular rate of remuneration.


Mandatory service charges are not treated as tips

Some employee mistakes mandatory service charge with tips of gratuities. Tips are voluntary amount left by a patron, but mandatory service charge is the amount required from the patron based on the contractual agreement listed on the menu of an establishment. These service charges legally belong to the employer who distributes them to the employee at their discretion.


Important rules for tips and gratuities to note in California

In most states, an amount is deducted from the tip as a processing fee, but in California, the employer should not deduct any amount.

Tip Pooling

Tip pooling under California labor law is considered to be legal so long as certain conditions are set. Basically, tip pooling is gathering tips earned by several employees and splitting them up in previously agreed percentage. However, this practice has to be participated by employees and not the employer.

California laws also prohibit tip credits, therefore, any employment contract allowing it is illegal. To recover money held by the employer, you need to file a claim with California Division of Labor Standard enforcement for an investigation to take place or file a conversion lawsuit.

In most cases, it is critical to act fast depending on the claim you intend to pursue.


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