Geonetta & Frucht, LLP
By: Geonetta & Frucht, LLP

Whether you have chosen to pick up another shift to make a little extra money for an unexpected bill or you have been asked to work overtime on a regular basis, it is important for every worker to know what California laws say about overtime pay in the state. Not everyone who works overtime hours qualifies to receive overtime pay — but, sometimes, those who do qualify do not get paid correctly or at all for the extra hours or days they worked. Our employment law attorneys handle complaints related to overtime work on a daily basis and share some important answers every worker should know about.

What Constitutes Overtime Hours in California?

According to California Labor Code Section 510, overtime is defined as “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”. In simpler terms, one full workday is considered to last for eight hours.

One full workweek is no more than 40 hours in total or six consecutive days without a day off. If anyone works more than 8 hours in a single day, more than 40 hours in a single week, or more than six days without a break, all those extra hours are considered overtime.

How Much Is Overtime Pay in California and Who Is Eligible to Receive It?

Overtime pay in California is either one-and-a-half times the employee’s regular rate of pay or two times the employee’s regular rate of pay. The regular rate of pay is how much a worker would normally receive as an hourly wage. Overtime is calculated by multiplying the worker’s regular rate of pay by 1.5 or 2.0.

Those who worked more than eight hours in a day (up to a maximum of 12 hours), as well as those who worked more than 40 hours in a single workweek, may receive overtime pay at a rate of one-and-a-half times their regular pay rate. In addition, those who are required to work on the seventh day may also receive 1.5 times their pay rate during the first eight hours of work on the seventh day. Overtime rates increase to double the worker’s regular pay rate for any day when the employee works for more than twelve consecutive hours. Double pay is also awarded for employees who work more than eight hours on a seventh day.

Not everyone that works overtime is eligible to receive overtime pay. Only employees classified as “non-exempt” may receive overtime pay. Those excluded from getting paid overtime rates include exempt employees who work a white-collar job on a salaried basis (rather than receiving hourly pay); outside salespersons who spend at least half of their time away from their employer’s place of business; unionized employees under a collective bargaining agreement; and those with certain occupations such as agricultural workers, camp counselors or live-in household workers. Independent contractors and those employees with an alternative workweek schedule (who agreed to work up to 10h a day, but not more than 40h a week).

Can Employers Require Mandatory Overtime?

Under California law, employers can require workers to work extra hours and have the right to dictate their work schedule. This practice is commonly referred to as mandatory overtime. Employers are also allowed to discipline or terminate workers who do not comply. The only exception to this rule is that employers cannot discipline workers who refuse to work the seventh day (after having worked for 6 days without time off). Eligible employees who work mandatory overtime should receive overtime pay as discussed above – either at 1.5 or 2 times their normal pay rate, depending on how many additional hours they have clocked in.

What Can I Do If My Employer Won’t Pay Me for My Overtime Hours?

Overtime hours must be paid on the next paycheck following the dates when you worked the extra time. If the hours you work apply to the payroll week following the one already registered, you can expect to receive your overtime payment on the next pay period. However, if you still don’t end up receiving your overtime pay, it is important to know the steps you can take.

If your employer is not paying you the overtime hours you are entitled to, your first step is to file a wage claim with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) of California’s Labor Commissioner’s Office. After that, a Labor Commissioner may recommend that the parties try to resolve the matter through a conference, which is a more informal meeting than a hearing with the goal of reaching a mutual agreement. Alternatively, the parties may be referred to a formal hearing, in which they will testify under oath. Following the conference or hearing, both parties will be served with an ODA (an Order, Decision, or Award from the Labor Commissioner), which is a document that explains the Labor Commissioner’s final decision regarding the wage claim. Employees may also sue their employers through a traditional civil lawsuit.

If you are an employee who has questions about filing a wage claim or about California overtime laws, contact our employment law attorneys for a free consultation to learn your rights and options. We are here to help.

Geonetta & Frucht, LLP
By: Geonetta & Frucht, LLP