If you currently earn an hourly wage and work in the state of California, there are specific labor laws in place that govern the hourly compensation amount you must be paid based on the hours you work, regardless of the number of hours shown on your timesheet.
California overtime laws offer more protection than in other states, so let’s look at some of the basic overtime regulations in effect in California to ensure you’re getting paid appropriately for all hours worked.
WHAT ARE THE GENERAL OVERTIME RULES IN CALIFORNIA?
Overtime in California is paid to eligible employees when they do one of three things:
- Work more than 8 hours in one given workday.
- Work more than 40 hours in a standard workweek.
- Work seven days in a row within a standard 7-day workweek.
In California, the general overtime provisions are that a nonexempt employee shall not be employed more than eight hours in any workday or more than 40 hours in any workweek unless he or she receives one and one-half times his or her regular rate of pay for all hours worked over eight hours in any workday and over 40 hours in the workweek. Eight hours of labor constitutes a day’s work, and employment beyond eight hours in any workday or more than six days in any workweek is permissible provided the employee is compensated for the overtime at not less than:
- One and one-half times the employee’s regular rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of eight hours up to and including 12 hours in any workday, and for the first eight hours worked on the seventh consecutive day of work in a workweek; and
- Double the employee’s regular rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of 12 hours in any workday and for all hours worked in excess of eight on the seventh consecutive day of work in a workweek.
There are, however, a number of exemptions from the overtime law. An “exemption” means that the overtime law does not apply to a particular classification of employees. There are also a number of exceptions to the general overtime law stated above. An “exception” means that overtime is paid to a certain classification of employees on a basis that differs from that stated above.
ARE ALL EMPLOYEES ELIGIBLE TO RECEIVE OVERTIME IN CALIFORNIA?
No. In California, various classes of employees are exempt from overtime compensation. The Industrial Welfare Commission Wage Orders specifically set out the classes of employees exempt from overtime compensation, and include, but are not limited to:
- Executive, Administrative and Professional employees;
- Employees in the computer software field who are paid on an hourly basis and meet all of the other requirements set forth in the Orders;
- Outside Salespersons;
- Drivers whose hours are regulated by the U.S Department of Transportation Code of Federal Regulation, Title 49, Sections 395.1 to 395.13, Hours of Service of Drivers;
- Drivers whose hours are regulated by Title 13 of the California Code of Regulations, subchapter 6.5, section 1200 et seq.;
- Employees (except minors) whose earnings exceed one and one-half times the minimum wage and more than half their compensation represents commissions;
- Any employee who is engaged in work that is primarily intellectual, managerial, or creative, and which requires the exercise of discretion and independent judgment, and for which the remuneration is not less than two times the monthly State minimum wage for full-time employment;
- Personal attendants not covered under the Domestic Worker Bill of Rights.
HOW SHOULD OVERTIME BE CALCULATED IN CALIFORNIA?
The actual dollar amount of the overtime payment isn’t always as simple as the standard rate of pay x 1.5. It is calculated by taking the actual hourly rate earned by the employee over the course of a standard workweek.
Overtime is based on the regular rate of pay, which is the compensation you normally earn for the work you perform. The regular rate of pay includes a number of different kinds of remuneration, such as hourly earnings, salary, piecework earnings, and commissions. In no case may the regular rate of pay be less than the applicable minimum wage.
The following are examples of how to calculate the regular rate of pay:
- If you are paid on an hourly basis, that amount is the regular rate of pay.
- If you are paid a salary, the regular rate is determined as follows:
Multiply the monthly remuneration by 12 (months) to get the annual salary.
Divide the annual salary by 52 (weeks) to get the weekly salary.
Divide the weekly salary by the number of legal maximum regular hours (40) to get the regular hourly rate.
- If you are paid by the piece or commission, either of the following methods may be used to determine the regular rate of pay for purposes of computing overtime:
The piece or commission rate is used as the regular rate and you are paid one and one-half this rate for production during the first four overtime hours in a workday, and double time for all hours worked beyond 12 in a workday; or
Divide your total earnings for the workweek, including earnings during overtime hours, by the total hours, worked during the workweek, including the overtime hours. For each overtime, hour worked you are entitled to an additional one-half the regular rate for hours requiring time and one-half, and to the full rate for hours requiring double time.
A group rate for piece workers is an acceptable method for computing the regular rate of pay. In using this method, the total number of pieces produced by the group is divided by the number of people in the group, with each person being paid accordingly. The regular rate for each worker is determined by dividing the pay received by the number of hours worked. The regular rate cannot be less than the minimum wage.
Let’s suppose an employee works Monday to Friday, a total of 40 hours, with three days at 8 hours, one day at 6 hours, and one day at 10 hours. This equates to 40 total hours, but the 10-hour day would trigger two hours of pay at the overtime rate.\
Supposing the employee works four 10-hour days, still 40 hours in the same workweek, they would earn two hours of overtime for each of those days since the daily total pushed beyond the 8-hour mark.
Finally, supposing an employee works a total of 40 hours over the course of a 7-day workweek and works shorter shifts throughout each day. If the employee works 32 hours total from Monday to Saturday and then works 8 hours on Sunday (assuming Mon-Sun is the company’s standard workweek), the employee would receive 8 hours of pay on Sunday, as it is the 7th day in a seven-day workweek.
Going beyond the 1.5x overtime rule, any hours worked in excess of 12 hours in one day, or 8 hours on the seventh consecutive day of work in one 7-day workweek, will trigger double-time pay.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOU FEEL LIKE YOUR EMPLOYER ISN’T APPROPRIATELY PAYING OT?
While no employer is required to offer overtime hours to employees, companies are required to pay the overtime rate if employees work overtime, whether authorized or not. If you feel like your employer is not abiding by overtime rules and regulations, first consult with your human resources department and try to resolve the matter. If that is not possible, you feel unsure about approaching them, you fear retaliation, or you simply don’t have confidence in the HR department to resolve the matter, you can file a wage claim with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement. You can also file a lawsuit in court against the employer.
If you feel like your employer is violating overtime laws, contact a reputable employment law firm, like Feldman Browne Olivares, APC, that specializes in recovering lost wages for affected clients. A competent attorney can help protect you from an abusive or deceptive employer and ensure you receive the settlement or recovery you deserve.