• Sasha Struthers

Los Angeles' Wage & Salary Increases in 2021

In the natural course of California's employment landscape wages and salaries are set to increase in 2021. While the pandemic has slowed businesses down and presented costly unemployment claims, it does not stop the predetermined wage increases. Additional quick reads for the well educated boss- 6 Major Employment Laws Coming January 1, 2021 and 6 Easy Ways to Avoid Wage and Hour Lawsuits.

California set a goal of $15/ hour minimum wage by 2023, and it will do so. However, localities have met or surpassed that goal already so note the differences below.

January 1, 2021 Wage Increases

California State- Minimum Wage Order

1-25 Employees- $13.00/hr

26+ Employees- $14.00/ hr

Los Angeles City & Unincorporated County

1-25 Employees- $14.25/hr

26+ Employees- $15.00/hr

If you don't know if you are city or county you can use this link here, put in your address and it will populate the information necessary to determine.


1-25 Employees- $14.25/hr

26+ Employees- $15.00/hr


All Businesses- $15.00/hr

Santa Monica

1-25 Employees- $14.25/hr

26+ Employees- $15.00/hr

July 1, 2021 Wage Increases

Los Angeles City & Unincorporated County

All Businesses- $15.00/hr


All Businesses- $15.00/hr

Santa Monica

All Businesses- $15.00/hr

January 1, 2021 Salary Increases

Salaries go by the state minimum wage. Therefore, a properly classified exempt employee must make at least the following:

1-25 Employees- $54,080/ yr or $1,120/wk

26+ Employees- $58,240/ yr or $1,040/ wk

The above numbers are based on California's law that an exempt employee make at least 2 times the minimum wage and calculated using the following formula:

(applicable minimum wage x 2) x 2,080 hours = salary

According to the Department of Industrial Relations ("DIR") exempt employees commonly fall into three categories- Executive, Administrative and Professional. Besides receiving the minimum salary these exempt employees must meet certain criteria. I've dealt with many lawsuits in which an employer will classify an employee as exempt, but the employee in fact does not meet the criteria, which triggers back meal and rest break premiums, overtime wages and other penalties. Don't think simply paying an employee a salary means they are truly exempt. Below are the main points to be met for the three main exemptions:


  1. Employee is involved in management of business;

  2. Employee directs the work of 2+ employees; and

  3. (a) Employee has the authority to hire or fire other employees; or (b) Employees suggestions and recommendations as to hiring, firing, advancing, promoting or other changes in another employees position are given weight; and

  4. Employee regularly exercises discretion and independent judgment.

Common Job Duties May Include

  • Training

  • Scheduling

  • Assigning job duties

  • Keeping track of business inventory, sales, budgets

  • Handling employee complaints and issues

  • Disciplining employees

  • Implementing workplace policies including safety policies and those related to compliance with applicable work place laws and regulations


Employee either (a) performs office work directly related to management policies or general business operations; or (b) performs functions in the administration of a school system/department or educational establishment or institution directly related to academic instruction or training; and

  1. Employee regularly exercises discretion and independent judgment; and

  2. Employee

(a) regularly and directly assists a business owner or executive, or

(b) performs, under only general supervision, work along specialized or technical lines requiring special training, experience, or knowledge, or

(c) executes, under only general supervision, special assignments and tasks.

Common Job Duties May Include

  • Accounting, taxes and other finance related matters

  • Quality control

  • Purchasing or procurement

  • Advertising and marketing

  • HR, employee management

  • Public or government relations

  • Legal and regulatory compliance oversight

  • Computer network (IT) and database admin work


  1. Employee is a professional if:

(a) Employee is licensed or certified by the State of California in one of the following: law, medicine, dentistry, optometry, architecture, engineering, teaching, or accounting, or

(b) Employee's occupation is commonly recognized as a learned or artistic profession, such as one of the following:

(i) Work requiring knowledge of an advance type in a field or science or learning customarily acquired by a prolonged course of specialized intellectual instruction and study or;

(ii) Work that is original and creative in character in a recognized field of artistic endeavor, and the result of which depends primarily on the invention, imagination, or talent of the employee; or work that is an essential part of or necessarily incident to any of the above work; and

(iii) Whose work is predominantly intellectual and varied in character and the output produced or the result accomplished cannot be standardized in relation to a given period of time; and

2. Who customarily and regularly exercised discretion an independent judgment in the performance of duties set forth above.

Employer Tip- If you have an exempt employee or are thinking of making an employee exempt draft up a job description. If most of the job description requires little oversight from you the owner or executive then that is a good indicator they are truly performing exempt work. If you still are unsure talk to a lawyer, like myself.


In light of the new wages and salaries, employers are additionally advised to do an annual review of their policies and handbooks to ensure compliance with the newest employment laws. Make sure to increase wages and salaries where necessary to meet the minimums and avoid wage and hour claims.

Should you have any questions about employee wages and salaries you may contact me by phone at (818) 306-0686 or by email at sasha@struthers.legal

Visit my website at struthers.legal and subscribe to my newsletter to get up-to date information on employment laws. You can also follow me on Twitter @Struthers_Legal and Youtube for employment tips and law updates.

The information in this post is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this post should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.