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Housing and Community Services Department
Housing and Community Services Department

Minimum Wage Ordinance

Berkeley Municipal Code Chapter 13.99

Frequently Asked Questions

(Updated August 7, 2014)      

1)       Q:

Where can I find the current Berkeley minimum wage?

  A: The current minimum wage is posted on the City of Berkeley website at You can also call 981-CITY/2489 or 3-1-1 from a landline in Berkeley)
2) Q:

When does the new Berkeley minimum wage take effect?

  A: Beginning October 1, 2014 the minimum wage in Berkeley will be $10.00 per hour; on October 1, 2015 the minimum wage will be $11.00 per hour; on October 1, 2016 the minimum wage in Berkeley will be $12.53 per hour.
3)  Q:

Does the Berkeley minimum wage apply to all employers that have employees who perform work in Berkeley?

  A: Yes, all employers regardless of where they are located, must pay the Berkeley minimum wage to their employees who perform at least two hours of work in Berkeley.
4)  Q: Is the Berkeley minimum wage the same for employees of non-profit agencies?
  A: For employers that are Nonprofit Corporations, the minimum wage will take effect on October 1, 2015, the wage will be $11.00 per hour.
5) Q: Does the Berkeley minimum wage cover employees who work in Berkeley but are not Berkeley residents?
  A: Yes!  Any person who performs at least two hours of work in a particular week for an   employer within the geographic boundaries of the City of Berkeley is entitled to be paid the Berkeley minimum wage.
6) Q: If a person works as a server (waitperson) in a restaurant, can the employer use tips as a credit towards the obligation to pay the Berkeley minimum wage?
  A: No!  An employer must not use an employee's tips as a credit towards its obligation to pay the Berkeley minimum wage.
7) Q: Does the Berkeley Minimum Wage Ordinance protect undocumented workers?
  A: Workers reporting violations of the Minimum Wage Ordinance with the City of Berkeley will not be questioned about their immigration status.
8) Q: What is the difference between the Federal, State and Berkeley Minimum wage laws?
  A: Berkeley employers are subject to the Federal, State and Berkeley minimum wage laws. When there are conflicting requirements in the laws, the employer must follow the stricter standard; that is, the one that is most beneficial to the employee. Since Berkeley's current law requires a higher minimum wage rate than the state and federal laws, all employers that have employees who perform work in Berkeley must pay Berkeley's minimum wage rate unless their employees are exempt under California law.
9) Q: May an employee agree to work for less than the Berkeley minimum wage?
  A: The Berkeley minimum wage is an obligation of the employer and cannot be waived by an employee except through a bona fide collective bargaining agreement (union agreement) as described in Section 13.99.050.
10) Q: What can I do if my employer doesn't pay me at least the Berkeley minimum wage?
  A: You can file a wage claim with the City of Berkeley’s Department of Health, Housing & Community Services; you must file a claim in writing by mail or in person. The city will conduct an investigation and has the authority to inspect workplaces, interview persons and request the City Attorney to subpoena books, papers, records or other items relevant to the enforcement of the Minimum Wage Ordinance (Section 13.99.080). You also have the right to file a civil action in court against the employer (Section 13.99.090).
11) Q: What can I do if my employer retaliates against me because I question him/her about not being paid the Berkeley minimum wage?

Under the ordinance, it is unlawful fot the employer to retaliate against any employee who assserts their right to receive the Berkeley minimum wage. An employee or another person may report to the Department in writing any suspected violation of the MWO, including retaliation. A fine of one thousand dollars ($1,000) may be assessed for retaliation by an employer for exercising rights protected under the MWO. For a full description of actions and remedies please refer to section 13.99.090 of the MOW. 

12) Q: Are there any exemptions to the Berkeley Minimum Wage Ordinance?
  A: Yes, there are two exemptions listed in Section 13.099.130 
  1. Employees who are on stand-by or on-call according to the criteria established by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FSLA), 29 U.S.C. Section 201.
  2. Job training participants up to 25 years of age in youth job training programs operated by Non-profit Corporations or governmental agencies.
13) Q: My business is a family owned business.  Do I need to pay my parent, spouse or child the Berkeley minimum wage?
  A: No. Consistent with California Labor Code, Sec 3352, (a) Individuals who are the parents, spouses or children of the employer are not covered by the Berkeley minimum wage.

Please email further questions to

Or call

Health, Housing & Community Services Department

 (510) 981-CITY/2489 or 311 from a landline in Berkeley

This fact sheet is intended as general information only and does not carry the force of legal opinion.  This information is provided as a public service.


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Housing and Community Services Department, 2180 Milvia Street, 2nd Floor, Berkeley, CA 94704
Questions or comments? Email: Phone: (510) 981-5400
(510) 981-CITY/2489 or 311 from any landline in Berkeley
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