California Overtime Law

Overtime Written on Ripped Red PaperCalifornia overtime law was developed to protect California nonexempt workers.  California overtime laws apply to nonexempt employees. For more information on non-exempt vs. exempt employees, go here: Exempt vs. non-exempt employees: California law explained. In general, California overtime laws require employers to pay nonexempt workers time-and-a-half and double time when they work over eight (8) hours a day or forty (40) hours per week. Enforcement of overtime laws ensures California employees are not being unnecessarily overworked and underpaid. Your employer can hold you accountable for virtually all aspects of your job performance. One way you can hold your employer responsible is by ensuring your employer complies with overtime laws.

If you feel you have not been paid the correct amount of overtime or have questions about overtime, keep reading to determine your rights to overtime pay.

Your Rights to Overtime Pay

Your rights to overtime pay under California overtime law are much broader than under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).[1] Although there is some overlap, the FLSA provides for time-and-a-half if you work over forty (40) hours during your workweek. Your rights to overtime pay as required by the California Labor Code §510[2] vary based on how many hours you work per day, how many days you work per week, and how many hours you work per week. Also, California overtime law provides for double pay (twice your regular pay) in specific circumstances. As such, California overtime law provides greater protection for workers than the federal FLSA.

How Many Hours You Work Per Day Matters

The California Labor Code requires time-and-a-half to be paid “for all hours worked in excess of eight (8) hours up to and including twelve (12) hours in any workday”[3] subject to exemptions. If you work more than eight (8) hours on any given workday even if you do not work more than forty (40) hours during that workweek, you are still owed overtime for the hours worked over eight (8) hours on any given workday.

Example: Anna worked eleven (11) hours on Tuesday, five (5) hours on Wednesday, and four (4) hours on Thursday, for a total of twenty (20) hours in one week. She is owed time-and-a-half overtime pay for the three (3) hours she worked over eight (8) hours on Tuesday — and this is true even though she did not work over forty (40) hours during the workweek. If Anna earned $15 an hour, she would be owed $322.50 – calculated as seventeen (17) hours at regular pay (17 x $15 = $255) plus three hours at time-and-a-half pay (3 x ($15 x 1.5 = $22.50) = $67.50).

In the same example above, under the federal FLSA, Anna’s employer would not owe her any overtime pay because she did not work over forty (40) hours during the workweek. However, because California overtime pay is based not only on how many hours you work per week, but also on how many hours you work per day, she is owed the three (3) hours she worked in excess of eight (8) hours on Tuesday in overtime.

How Many Hours You Work Per Week Matters

The California Labor Code requires time-and-a-half to be paid for “any work in excess of forty (40) hours in any one workweek.”[4] The California Labor Code overlaps with the FLSA[5] on this point. Both California and federal law require workers to be paid time-and-a-half for hours worked over forty (40) in the same workweek.

Example: Karen worked eight (8) hours per day, six (6) days per week for a total of forty-eight (48) hours. Karen would be owed time-and-a-half both under the California Labor Code and the federal FLSA for the eight (8) hours ((6 days x 8 hours = 48) – 40 hours) she worked over forty (40). If Karen earned $25 an hour, she would be owed $1,000 (40 hours x $25/hour) for the first forty (40) hours she worked plus an additional $300 (($25 x 1.5 = $37.50) x 8) for the eight (8) hours she worked over forty (40) hours during that workweek, for a total of $1,300.

In the example above, because the California overtime law and the federal FLSA requirements are based on how many hours you work per week, she is owed the time-and-a-half rate for the eight (8) hours she worked in excess of forty (40) hours during that workweek.

How Many Days You Work Per Week Matters

Many employees work five (5) days per week. However, some employees work six (6) or even (7) days per week. California Labor Code requires time-and-a-half to be paid for “the first eight hours worked on the seventh consecutive day of work in any one workweek.”[6] This applies regardless of whether you have worked over forty (40) hours per week.

Example: Miguel worked four (4) hours for seven (7) consecutive days. He would be owed time-and-a-half for up to the first eight (8) hours worked on the seventh (7th) consecutive day — and this is true even though he only worked a total of twenty-eight (28) hours during the first seven (7) days of the week. If Miguel earned $20 an hour, he would be owed $80 (4 hours x $20/hour) a day for the first six (6) days, or $480. For the four (4) hours Miguel worked on the seventh (7th) day, he would be owed $120 (($20/hour x 1.5 for overtime = $30/hour time-and-a-half rate) x 4 hours). For the week, Miguel would be owed $600 (($80 x 6 days = $480) + $120 for the 7th day).

In the same example above, under the federal FLSA, Miguel’s employer would not owe him any overtime pay because he had worked only twenty-eight (28) hours (7 days x 4 hours each day), less than forty (40) hours during the workweek. However, because California overtime pay is based not only on how many hours you work but also on how many days you work per week, Miguel is owed time-and-a-half for the four (4) hours he worked on the seventh (7th) day.

Double Pay

The California Labor Code[7] requires double time to be paid in two specific circumstances: “any work in excess of twelve (12) hours in one day,” and any work in excess of eight (8) hours on any seventh (7th) day of a workweek.”

Example: Chris worked fifteen (15) hours a day, seven (7) days a week for a total of one hundred and five (105) hours. Chris would be owed the following for each of the first six (6) days: eight (8) hours at regular pay rate, four (4) hours at time-and-a-half pay rate, and three (3) hours at double pay rate. If Chris earned $20 per hour, she would be owed $400 per day (($20/hour regular pay rate x 8 hours = $160) + (($20/hour x 1.5 = $30/hour time-and-a-half pay rate) x 4 hours = $120) + (($20/hour x 2 = $40/hour double pay rate) x 3 hours = $120) for each of the first six (6) days. For the seventh (7th) day, she would be owed the first eight (8) hours at time-and-a-half pay rate and the remaining seven (7) hours at double pay rate. So, Chris would be owed $520 for the seventh (7th) day (($20/hour x 1.5 = $30/hour time-and-a-half pay rate) x 8 hours = $240) + (($20/hour x 2 = $40/hour double pay rate) x 7 hours = $280). Her weekly salary for this week would total $2,920 (($400 x 6 days) + $520). If Chris were only paid straight time for the entire week, she would have been paid $2,100 ($20/hour x 15 hours/day x 7 days/week). Over the course of only one year, Chris would have been shorted $42,640 (($2,920/week in correct pay – $2,100/week in actual pay) x 52 weeks).

In the same example above, under the federal FLSA, Chris’ employer would not owe her any double pay; she would get only time-and-a-half pay for hours worked over forty (40) in the week. Because the California Labor Code provides for double pay in two circumstances that apply to Chris’ workweek, she is entitled to a significantly higher amount of pay under the California overtime law.

The Bottom Line

In California, the statute of limitations, which is the time you have to make a claim for unpaid wages, is three (3) years,[8] unless special circumstances apply.

If you have been illegally denied overtime pay or are unsure about your rights, contact us immediately.

Contact us or call (949) 954-8181 for a free consultation to determine whether or not you are owed overtime wages.

[1] United States Department of Labor https://www.dol.gov/whd/overtime_pay.htm

[2] 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. The requirements of this section do not apply to the payment of overtime compensation to an employee working pursuant to any of the following:

  1. An alternative workweek schedule adopted pursuant to Section 511.
  2. An alternative workweek schedule adopted pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement pursuant to Section 514.
  3. An alternative workweek schedule to which this chapter is inapplicable pursuant to Section 554.

[3] https://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/faq_overtime.htm “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.”

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.”

[4] See California Labor Code §510(a) above.

[5] https://www.dol.gov/whd/overtime_pay.htm “Unless exempt, employees covered by the Act must receive overtime pay for hours worked over 40 in a workweek at a rate not less than time and one-half their regular rates of pay.”

[6] See California Labor Code §510(a) above.

[7] https://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/faq_overtime.htm “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.”

California Labor Code §510(a): “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.”

[8] California Code of Civil Procedure – CCP §338.

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