As of July 1, 2023, the minimum wage has gone up in several Bay Area cities.
In San Francisco, the minimum wage is now $18.07 (PDF). On July 1, it increased from $16.99, marking the biggest increase in the city’s minimum wage in the past eight years.
Elsewhere, Berkeley has seen the same rise in its minimum wage as San Francisco. In Fremont, the minimum wage has risen starting July 1 from $16 to $16.80, and in Milpitas it’s now $17.20, up from $16.40. Meanwhile, in Emeryville, the minimum wage has gone up to $18.77 — higher than even San Francisco or Berkeley – from $17.68, now making the minimum wage in Emeryville one of the highest in the nation.
Even with these latest boosts, many Bay Area residents working minimum wage jobs struggle to make ends meet in some of the most expensive cities in the country. In San Francisco, someone with one full-time minimum wage job is expected to earn roughly $3,100 a month — an amount that is barely above the median rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city.
If you have a minimum wage job and are hustling to make ends meet, you know how important every single dollar is. Wage theft — that is, employers illegally keeping some of their employees’ pay for themselves — is still very common in California, particularly in the fast-food industry. A 2022 survey released by Fight for $15, a campaign funded by the Service Employees International Union, found that nearly 60% of respondents were victims of multiple types of wage theft.
Knowing what your rights are and how to keep tabs on your employer is critical to making sure you are getting paid the right amount, especially now that the minimum wage has risen in several parts of the Bay Area. Here’s a quick primer.
What should I do now that the minimum wage has gone up?
Check your pay stubs. Many employers use automatic payroll services that usually keep up with minimum wage changes, but it’s still a good idea to check the listed hourly rate to make sure it doesn’t list the outdated minimum wage ($16.99) or any lesser amount.
If you receive your wages through automatic deposit and don’t receive physical pay stubs, you can contact your human resources or payroll department — or, in much smaller business, your boss directly — and ask for your most recent pay stub to confirm that what you got in your account is correct. In some cases, you can get this information yourself if your employer has a digital employee portal (the place where you can review other information, like your schedule or insurance benefits).
If you are paid in cash, you can remind your employer about the new minimum wage and ask them to count your payment in front of you — to make sure each hour is being compensated at the new rate.
I discovered my employer is paying me below the minimum wage. What can I do?
First off, make sure that everything you communicate to your boss about this is in writing. Labor advocates recommend using email or text messages for these types of conversations, so you can have a written record of your situation.
In your message, let your employer know in writing:
- The hourly rate you are being paid
- The correct minimum wage you should get paid
- How long you’ve been paid the incorrect amount (if this applies to you)
You can also send a link to (or a screenshot of) your city government’s website stating the new minimum wage — like this poster from the city of San Francisco stating the city’s new minimum wage.
For some workers, this could be intimidating. But remember, you are acting within your rights, and if you are not compensated correctly, small differences will add up over time — and you may be losing hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars a year that can go to covering necessary expenses.
Additionally, it is illegal for your employer to retaliate against you for speaking up about wage theft. If they cut your hours or fire you — and you think this is because you spoke up about being paid less than the minimum wage — you can report your employer to the California Labor Commissioner’s Office. Learn more about how to file a complaint for workplace retaliation.