Are you paying or receiving the correct minimum wage? There are three levels that you must check to be sure you are in compliance with wage and hour laws.

Employers must pay the highest wage set by either the federal, state, or applicable local law. Currently, the federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. California, like twenty-two other states and Washington D.C. has set the minimum wage above the federally mandated minimum. In July, California’s minimum wage rose from $8 an hour to $9 an hour, with a scheduled increase to $10 in January 2016. The Golden State ranks third in the nation in highest minimum wage behind D.C., Oregon, and Washington. (See http://www.ncsl.org/research/labor-and-employment/state-minimum-wage-chart.aspx.)

Many municipalities, and specifically cities where the cost of living is high, have opted for additional raises. San Diego, for example, is in the midst of a battle between members of its city council and mayor over where the figure should be set. The San Diego City Council has already approved higher wages than the state-mandated minimum beginning in January when local wages must be at least $9.75. The San Diego City Council also overrode Mayor Kevin Faulkner's veto of additional raises to $11.50 in 2017 and a subsequent raise to be tied to inflation by 2019. Don’t expect the minimum wage battle between the Mayor and the City Council to be resolved any time soon, however, as enough signatures have been gathered for a public vote in June 2016.

Similarly, the mayor of Los Angeles has proposed that city’s minimum wage be $13.25 by 2017. This proposal will surely receive similar opposition to that of San Diego’s legislation.

It is essential that all employers stay on top of the ever-shifting figures to stay in compliance with wage and hour laws and avoid litigation.