Employee Classifications In California - Business Owners Need To Know

The way you classify your employees is vital to remaining compliant with federal and state labor laws. Non-compliance as a result of accidental misclassification can result in harsh penalties. Here at J.R. Morgan & Associates, we are intimately familiar with California’s labor laws, and we can assist in employee classification.

California Labor Laws

California has strict labor laws that they passed to protect workers. Employee classification, which determines whether employees are eligible for overtime pay (the rate is outlined in California’s labor laws), isn’t the only law that you need to be careful to follow. You will also have to abide by laws governing minimum wage, breaks, child labor, safe working environments, and more. The state’s labor laws also include laws against age, sex, gender, disability, race, nationality, religious discrimination, and laws against sexual harassment, wrongful termination, and workplace retaliation.

Not only can you be fined a significant amount of money for every incident in which you violate California labor law, but you can open yourself up to potential lawsuits as well.  To ensure that you abide by all state and federal labor laws, we can educate you about all of these laws and help your business remain in compliance.

Full Time

Full-time employees are defined as anyone who works at least 40 hours a week. However, according to the ACA (Affordable Care Act), full-time employees are defined as working at least 30 hours a week. The choice of whether you designate your employees as full-time if they work 30 or more hours a week is up to you, but you are legally required to be consistent. This means that if one type of employee works 33 hours a week and is classified as full-time, you can’t classify a different employee working 33 hours a week as part-time. If you have more than 50 employees, the ACA also requires you to offer your full-time workers (who work more than 30 hours a week) healthcare benefits.

Most full-time workers are paid a yearly salary and are allowed a certain number of sick days and vacation days. Their salaries must equal or be more than the minimum wage. We can help determine which employees should be designated as full-time and help ensure that the classification is consistent throughout your organization.


You can designate any employee working fewer than 40 hours a week as part-time. Part-time employees are paid an hourly wage and must be paid at least the minimum wage, which is currently $12/hour in California. You’re also required to pay an overtime rate if your part-time employees work over eight hours in a day, over 40 non-overtime hours in a week, or seven days a row in a week. We can help ensure that the hours worked by your part-time employees are being accurately recorded and that you’re paying your part-time employees the correct amount based on the hours that they are working.


Temp workers are employees who are hired temporarily, often through staffing agencies. If you hire a temp through a staffing agency, they are technically the employee of that staffing agency. They can support your business as either a part-time or full-time temporary employee; however, they may not be eligible for the same benefits (especially if they are from a temp agency). Although they may not be eligible for health benefits or vacation pay, they are eligible for unemployment and workers’ compensation under state law. If you are planning on hiring a temp (or multiple temps), we can help ensure that you remain compliant with all of California’s labor laws regarding hiring temps.


Seasonal employees are either part-time workers or temp workers hired for the short-term to help with seasonal work. Generally speaking, a seasonal worker cannot work more than 35 hours a week or for more than six months of the year. But note that seasonal employees can accrue paid sick leave under California state law if they work over 30 hours a week. If you hire seasonal workers, we can help ensure that they are correctly classified and that you remain compliant with all state and federal laws that govern seasonal employees’ employment.

Make Certain Your California Employees Are Classified Correctly

Our extensive knowledge of California’s labor laws can help ensure that your small business correctly classifies its employees. Employee classification is essential to ensuring that you’re abiding by state and federal labor laws and that you’re paying your employees correctly. Underpaying employees due to misclassification will only hurt your reputation among your employees and in your industry as a whole.

Go To: