Concerned about your payment or working conditions?  Thousands of people are in your shoes.  Know your rights and make sure you do not get exploited.

“Who regulates our hours and working conditions? Overview of Wage Orders.”

Have you ever wondered why a regular workday is 8 hours per day, or why you have the right to a lunch break after 5 hours of work? These regulations exist because of Wage Orders. This blog will give you an overview of Wage Ordersand where to find the Wage Order that applies to your particular job. This information will be useful to be able to advocate for your rights as an employee in California.

What are Wage Orders and where did they come from?

Wage Orders are a set of guidelines for wages, hours of work and working conditions for workers in California.   They are designed for the protection of employees.

In California, the Industrial Welfare Commission (“IWC”) was established to setregulations for wages, hours of work, and working conditions of California workers. The IWC established regulations, called “Industrial Welfare Commission Wage Orders,” or “Wage Orders,” for short. These Wage Orders are enforced by the Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Labor Standards Enforcement. The IWC was defunded in 2004, but the Wage Orders continue to be enforced.

Do Wage Orders apply to all workers?

In general, wage orders apply to all workers, documented or undocumented.  There are special exceptions for certain managers, supervisors, and other specific cases.

How do I find out which Wage Order applies to my job?

To determine which WageOrder applies to you, first determine if the business that you work for is covered by an “Industry Order.”If the business does not fall under an “Industry Order,” you must look at “Occupational Orders” to find your occupation.

The chart below lists all 17 Wage Orders, numbered 1 through 17, divided into “Industry Wage Orders” or “Occupational Wage Orders.”

Industry Wage OrdersOccupational Wage Orders
1. Manufacturing Industry4. Professional, Technical, Clerical, Mechanical and Similar Occupations
2. Personal Service Industry14. Agricultural Occupations
3. Canning, Freezing, and Preserving Industry15. Household Occupations
5. Public Housekeeping Industry16. Occupations in the Construction, Drilling, Logging and Mining industries
6. Laundry, Linen Supply, Dry cleaning and Dyeing Industry17. Miscellaneous Employees
7. Mercantile Industry 
8. Industries Handling Products After Harvest 
9. Transportation Industry 
10. Amusement and Recreation Industry 
11. Broadcast Industry 
12. Motion Picture Industry 
13. Industries Preparing Agricultural Products for Market, on the Farm 

It can be tricky to figure out which specific wage order applies to your particular job.  But it is extremely important to understand.  The classification of your job can impact your working conditions and pay.  Agricultural wage orders in particular will be changing significantly every year until 2022.  If you have not been paid correctly or given breaks and lunch on time, these are violations of your rights protected by wage orders.

If your rights at work have been wronged, or if you would like to find out which wage order applies to you, do not hesitate to contact our experienced employment law attorneys at Venardi Zurada LLP.


  1. Industrial Welfare Commission Wage Orders:
  2. Which IWC Order? Classifications