Pursuant to U.S. Federal and California State law, the JVP employers shall pay inmate employees a wage comparable to wages paid by the employer to non-inmate employees performing similar work for the employer. If the employer does not employ such non-inmate employees in similar work, compensation shall be comparable to wages paid for work of a similar nature in the locality in which the work is to be performed. In this latter case, the California Employment Development Department will assist employers in determining the minimum entry-level wage for each job position.
Most private California employers—regardless of size—are governed by both federal and state wage and hour laws. Federal and state wage and hour laws differ in a number of ways, and, when they do, employers must follow the provision more favorable to employees. For example, both the U.S. and California require employees be paid a minimum wage rate. But, while the federal minimum wage rose to $7.25 per hour in July 2009, California’s minimum wage has been $12.00 per hour since January 2019. California employers must pay $12.00 per hour, the higher of the two.
Payment of the minimum wage is one of two major requirements under federal and state wage and hour laws; the other is payment for overtime work. Again, the state has the more generous laws. Here is a basic summary of California’s overtime pay requirements–an employer must pay one-and-one-half of an employee’s regular rate of pay for:
- All hours worked beyond eight in a single workday; and
- The first eight hours worked on the seventh consecutive day worked in a single workweek.
- An employer must pay double the employee’s regular rate of pay for:
- All hours worked beyond 12 in a single workday; and
- All hours worked beyond eight on the seventh consecutive day worked in a single workweek.
There are industry-specific exceptions to these requirements. Please consult with legal counsel for further information.
Written worker evaluations are required after every 1,040 hours worked. Inmate workers receiving satisfactory performance evaluations are required by state law to receive a 2.5% increase in their wage for each 2,080 hours worked.
Net Pay Distributions
In addition to federal and state taxes, the following distributions are made from inmate’s net wages:
- 20% is sent to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation as a reimbursement for room and board
- 20% is used to pay inmates’ restitution fines or paid directly to local crime victims’ programs
- 20% is sent directly to the inmate’s family for support or used to pay court ordered wage garnishments (i.e., child support)
- 20% is deposited in a mandatory savings account which is available to the inmate upon his/her parole
- 20% is placed in the inmate’s trust account at the institution for personal use
Voluntary and “At Will” Employment
Inmates volunteer to participate in the Joint Venture Program (JVP). Their employment is “at will” and as such may be lawfully terminated by the JVP employer at any time with or without cause.