Guide to Overtime Laws in California
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Guide to Overtime Laws in California

Guide to Overtime Laws in California

Working a job where overtime is a possibility can be challenging, especially when you don’t have enough employees to cover all of the available shifts. When this happens, you could be stuck working dozens of overtime hours per week. If this is the case, you should have a solid understanding of California’s overtime laws for employees, independent contractors and other types of workers so your rights are protected.

What Qualifies as Overtime in California?

According to California overtime laws, non-exempt employees are entitled to earn one-and-a-half times their regular pay rate when they work

  • More than eight hours in a regular workday
  • More than 40 hours in a regular work week
  • More than six days back to back in a work week

Employers are also required to pay non-exempt employees who work more than 12 hours in a regular workday or eight hours on the seventh uninterrupted day in a workweek.

According to California Labor Code 510:

(a) Eight hours of labor constitutes a day’s work. Any work in excess of eight hours in one workday and any work in excess of 40 hours in any one workweek and the first eight hours worked on the seventh day of work in any one workweek shall be compensated at the rate of no less than one and one-half times the regular rate of pay for an employee. Any work in excess of 12 hours in one day shall be compensated at the rate of no less than twice the regular rate of pay for an employee. In addition, any work in excess of eight hours on any seventh day of a workweek shall be compensated at the rate of no less than twice the regular rate of pay of an employee. Nothing in this section requires an employer to combine more than one rate of overtime compensation in order to calculate the amount to be paid to an employee for any hour of overtime work.

What Types of Workers are Entitled to Overtime Pay?

There are six types of employees who are not entitled to overtime pay:

  • Exempt employees
  • Union workers
  • Independent contractors (1099 workers)
  • Outside salespersons
  • Specific employees with their own overtime requirements
  • Employees who have alternative workweek schedules

Exempt Employees

Exempt employees are typically described as employees who have a “white collar” job like in the administrative, professional, or executive field, and receive a fixed salary instead of an hourly wage. The salary cannot be less than California’s minimum wage for full-time jobs.

Union Workers

Union workers are not entitled to overtime wages in California if their bargaining agreement provides a combination of work hours and conditions, a regular hourly wage that is 30 percent more than California’s minimum wage, and wage rates for overtime hours. If these three conditions are not met by a bargaining agreement, union workers can be categorized as non-exempt employees and can receive overtime wages in accordance with California’s wage and hour laws.

Independent Contractors

Independent Contractors (1099 workers) are workers who perform a service under an employment contract that states that the worker will produce a specific result for a specific amount of pay, and have full control of the means in which they produce that result. Because independent contractors are not managed under employers, independent contractors are not entitled to overtime wages in California.

Outside Salespersons

There are three conditions that prohibit outside salespersons from receiving overtime wages in California:

  • They must be 18 years old
  • They must spend half of their work time away from their employer’s place of business
  • They must sell services, contracts, facility usage, and items

Specific Employees with Their Own Overtime Requirements

There are certain occupations that are prohibited from receiving overtime wages in California. Some of the common occupations include camp counselors, agricultural workers, 24-hour nannies, old age home managers, personal attendants, the employer’s spouse, parents, or children, and live-in household workers.

Employees Who Have Alternative Workweek Schedules

California overtime laws do not apply to employees who have been assigned an alternative workweek schedule. An alternative workweek schedule is a written agreement between a group of employees and an employer that allows employees to work up to ten hours a day without overtime pay. To obtain a legitimate exception to California overtime laws, the alternative workweek schedule has to be approved by at least two-thirds of impacted employees in a work unit by a secret ballot. The employer is also responsible for submitting the alternative workweek schedule to the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement within 30 days.

Does California Have Overtime After Eight Hours or 40 Hours?

Yes. Non-exempt employees are typically entitled to overtime pay when they work more than eight hours in a regular workday. Non-exempt employees are also entitled to overtime pay if they work more than ten hours in a regular workday on an alternative workweek schedule. An alternative workweek schedule is a written agreement between a group of employees and the employer that permits employees to work up to ten hours a day without overtime pay. Non-exempt employees who work more than ten hours on an alternative workweek schedule are entitled to overtime pay.

Similar to an eight-hour workday, non-exempt employees are entitled to overtime pay after working more than 40 hours in a single workweek. If the 40 hours that an employee has worked is spread out over two separate workweeks, employees are not automatically entitled to overtime pay. For example, Maria’s regular workweek starts on Monday and ends on Sunday. That week, Maria works eight hours a day on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. Although Maria worked 48 hours in a weeklong time span, she worked 40 of those hours in just one workweek, and the other eight hours will be counted in a different workweek. Because of this, Maria is not entitled to overtime pay for that workweek.

A regular workday is from 12:01 a.m. to midnight, unless the employer mentions otherwise. Employees who perform work for more than eight hours in a single calendar may not qualify for overtime pay if the hours are spread over two different workdays. For example, if Ben’s employer scheduled Ben’s shift from 4 p.m. to 3:59 p.m., and Ben works from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m., the first four hours of Ben’s shift fall on one workday (12 p.m. to 3:59 p.m.) and the final six hours count for another workday (4 p.m. to 9 p.m.). Because of this, Ben’s work does not qualify for overtime pay.

Can Employers Change Workday Start and Stop Times?

Employers are not allowed to change workday start-and-stop times unless it is due to a legitimate business reason. Even if employees typically work eight hours or less on a regular workday, employees are still entitled to receive overtime pay for working more than eight hours on a particular workday. Employees who typically work less than eight hours in a workday are not entitled to overtime pay if they work their full eight hours. They would receive their regular wage up until the eight hours that are worked.

Can Your Employer Force You to Work Overtime?

Yes. California’s overtime laws permit employers to require mandatory overtime, or “forced overtime.” Employers also have the ability to discipline employees who refuse to comply. The only exception to these rules is that employers cannot discipline employees who refuse to work the seventh day of a continuous workweek. The purpose behind overtime laws is to encourage employers to hire more employees to avoid having to pay employees overtime. By hiring more employees, it takes the additional stress off of current employees who do not have to work extra hours and employees who do not want to pay time-and-a-half or double rates.

How Much is Overtime Pay in California?

Overtime pay and paid time off (comp time) in California consists of time-and-a-half. That means that an employee’s overtime rate is one and one and-a-half times the employee’s regular rate of pay. Some employees, however, are entitled to double time wages, wages that are twice the employee’s regular hourly wage rate. Employees are entitled to double wages when they work either

  • More than 12 hours in a regular workday
  • More than eight hours on the seventh continuous workday

What Qualifies as Hours Worked?

Hours worked include not only the time that an employee has worked, but also the following:

  • Meal breaks only when the employee is asked to work during their break
  • Rest breaks
  • “On call” periods unless the employee is allowed to engage in personal activities
  • Job preparation time if the preparation is fundamental to the job
  • Commuting if the employee has to travel to a job site that is far from their office

How Soon do I get Paid for Overtime?

Employees who are paid either weekly, biweekly, or twice a month must receive their overtime wages within seven calendar days after the close of the payroll period. If not, employers have until the second regular payday following the overtime work to pay overtime wages to their employees. This benefits employees because they have additional time to collect enough money to make good on overtime pay.

My Employer is Refusing to Pay My Overtime – What Can I do?

If your employer refuses to pay your overtime wages, you have several options. You can file a wage claim with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE)/California’s Labor Commission’s Office. The Deputy Labor Commissioner can decide to either dismiss your claim, refer the matter to a conference, or refer the matter to a hearing. Another option is to hire an unpaid overtime lawyer and sue your employer for unpaid overtime wages in a traditional lawsuit.

Can I be Paid Overtime Even if My Employer Didn’t Authorize It?

Yes. Non-exempt employees can be paid overtime wages for unauthorized overtime, overtime that the employer did not expressly tell them to work. The only requirement is that the employer knew or should have known that the employee was working extra hours. Employers do, however, have the ability to discipline employees for working overtime without asking for permission first, and employees do not have the right to keep their employers in the dark about working overtime. Employers are never permitted to ask that their employees work “off the clock.”

What are Some Common Wage and Hour Violations Committed by Employers?

In addition to requiring that employees work “off the clock” employers will also commit the following wage and hour violations:

  • Intentionally misclassifying employees as independent contractors or exempt employees to avoid paying overtime or required breaks
  • Failing to provide employees with the necessary meal breaks and rest breaks
  • Requiring employees to work during their meal breaks and rest breaks
  • Failing to provide employees with hazard pay even when hazard pay is provided in the employment agreement.

Can I Sue My Employer for not Paying Me Overtime?

Yes. If your employer has failed to pay your overtime wages, you can reach out to a wage and hour attorney about collecting the unpaid amounts. In some cases, you can also collect interest and reasonable attorney’s fees. All California employers must pay overtime wages to non-exempt employees. Requiring employees to work “off the clock” is a regular method of wage and hour violations. Employers also do not have the right to retaliate against you for filing a wage and hour lawsuit against them.

Can Salary Employees Sue for Overtime?

Employees who earn a salary may be able to sue for overtime wages depending on whether their salary is less than California’s minimum wage. For example, the minimum exempt salary for businesses with 25 employees or less is $54,080 per year. Businesses with 26 employees or more have a minimum exempt salary of $58,240 per year. Exempt employees who work hourly are still entitled to get paid for every additional hour that they work. However, unless their employment agreement mentioned otherwise, their overtime pay is not higher than their regular pay. You can file a wage claim if you have not been paid according to the law.

What if I Cannot Afford an Overtime Pay Lawyer?

California overtime pay lawyers will work on contingency to represent employees. This means that overtime pay lawyers will not get paid until you do. Should your lawsuit be successful, your overtime pay lawyer will be entitled to a portion of your total damages.
California wage and hour laws require employers to pay the employee’s attorney’s fees in successful wage and hour lawsuits; this means that your total damages will not be reduced. Make sure you seek legal counsel when involved in a dispute surrounding California overtime law for part-time employees or California overtime law for full-time employees.
A California overtime dispute lawyer will also recommend filing class action lawsuits on behalf of a large number of employees. If your wage and hour rights have been violated by your employer, chances are the rights of your coworkers and other employees are being violated as well.

Have an Overtime Issue at Work? Call an Experienced Employment Lawyer in Glendale, California

If your employer has violated the California overtime laws, it is in your best interest to speak with an experienced overtime lawyer near Los Angeles. A wage and hour attorney from the Manukyan Law Firm can answer your questions and review your case. Call our office at 818-559-4444 to schedule a free consultation today.

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