Chapter 2:
What California Wage Order are We Under?

Last Edited by Matthew Bartosiak, Manager, Consulting Helpline
August 2004

In California, the two principal sources of wage and hour law are the Wage Orders and the Labor Code. While the Labor Code addresses a myriad of employee rights, the Wage Orders center on wages, hours and working conditions. Many of the provisions found in the Wage Orders are also in the Labor Code.

Currently there are 17* Industrial Welfare Commission Orders (California Wage Orders). Twelve are industrial covering certain industries. Five orders cover certain occupations. Occupational Wage Orders cover certain types of employees working for an employer not covered by one of the thirteen Industrial Orders. Industrial Orders take precedence over Occupational Orders in determining Wage Order coverage.

For example, professionals working for a manufacturer are covered under the Industrial Order, "Manufacturing Industry" (1-01) not the Occupational Wage Order – "Professional, Technical, Clerical, Mechanical and Similar Occupations" (4-01).

Problems in classification can arise where a business is of a mixed nature. In these cases, to ascertain the correct Wage Order, it is necessary to do a broad assessment of the principal purpose of the business, based on simple observation and common sense.

Distinctly separate units of business may be covered under different Wage Orders. Separate classifications depend upon the differences in the units, the different business purposes, and the requirement that operational management is separately organized. For example, a manufacturer of baked goods would be classified under Manufacturing (1-01), while its bakery shops (if separate and with its own operational management) would classified under Mercantile (5-01). Some officials in the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement argue that separate wage orders require separate employer I.D. numbers. The Counsel for the Division of Labor Standards has stated that there is no official position on this requirement.

Certain exceptions concerning Wage Order coverage exist regarding employees. Outside sales persons, Department of Transportation (DOT) Drivers, and exempt white collar employees are not covered under many of the Wage Order regulations (including overtime). Employers that are not covered under the Wage Order include government agencies.

Even though some employees are not covered under the Wage Orders, generally, all employees must be paid the state's minimum wage and have the protection of particular provisions of the Labor Code. In addition, these employees may also be covered under federal law.

* A 16th Wage Order was established for construction, drilling, logging and mining by the IWC effective 1/1/2001. Wage Order 17 is a miscellaneous employers wage order


Industrial Wage Orders

1-2001: Manufacturing Industry

2-2001: Personal Service Industry

3-2001: Freezing, and Preserving Industry

5-2001: Public Housekeeping Industry

6-2001: Laundry, Linen Supply, Dry Cleaning, and Dyeing Industry

7-2001: Mercantile Industry

8-2001: Industries Handling Products After Harvest Industries

9-2001: Transportation Industry

10-2001: Amusement and Recreation Industry

11-2001: Broadcasting Industry

12-2001: Motion Picture Industry

13-2001: Industries Preparing Agriculture Products for Market, on the Farm

16-2001: On-site Occupations in the Construction, Drilling, Logging & Mining Industries.

Occupational Wage Orders

4-2001: Professional, Technical, Clerical, Mechanical, and Similar Occupations

14-2001: Agricultural Occupations

15-2001: Household Occupations

17-2001: Miscellaneous Employees


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