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Overtime laws exist to provide due compensation to employees who work additional hours beyond the expected work day and work week. California law prohibits employers from requiring employees to work more than eight hours a workday and more than forty hours in a work week without compensation. Employees may not waive this right, and employers must pay it.
The overtime rate is one-and-a-half times the employee’s regular rate of pay for hours more than eight per day or forty per week. For hours worked more than twelve in one day and more than eight on the seventh consecutive day of work in a workweek, the rate is double the employee’s regular rate of pay.
Numerous exceptions and exemptions to overtime rates apply to certain classes of employees. For these employees, California law has different overtime laws.
Overtime pay is based on an employee’s regular rate of pay, which includes hourly, salary, piecework, and commission earnings. No matter the classification of earnings, the rate of pay must not fall below minimum wage.
Some employees work on alternate workweek schedules, such as four ten-hour days or three twelve-hour days. For these employees, overtime rates can be determined on the basis of forty hours per workweek.
If an employee works overtime without their employer’s approval, the employer is still legally obligated to pay the overtime rate by California law. However, the employer may discipline the employee for violating the overtime policy.
Nondiscretionary bonuses, such as those based on hours worked, production, or proficiency, are part of calculating regular rate of pay for purposes of overtime. Discretionary bonuses, such as holiday bonuses, do not apply when calculating regular rate of pay.
Regular rate of pay excludes certain types of payments, such as:
Such payments are not part of determining regular rate of pay and cannot influence determining overtime.
Employers must pay salaried employees overtime unless they meet state qualifications for exemption or a provision by the Industrial Welfare Wage Orders exempts them from overtime.
An employer may require an employee to work overtime. In most circumstances, the employer may discipline employees for refusing to work scheduled overtime.
Employers must administer overtime payments within the same pay period the employee worked overtime hours.
If an employer does not provide overtime payments, an employee may file a wage claim or lawsuit to recover lost wages, even if the employee no longer works for the employer. A wage claim will first go to conference with the involved parties. If there is no resolution at conference, the claim will either move to court or reach dismissal due to lack of evidence. Either the employer or employee may appeal the court decision.
If an employer does not pay or appeal the court decision, then the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement can enter judgement against the employer.
Employees may also file a discrimination/retaliation complaint if an employer discriminates or retaliates against the employee for filing a wage claim for unpaid overtime.
The Law Office of Omid Nosrati has over 20 years of combined experience in advocating for employee rights and advocates for the rights employees seeking compensation for unpaid overtime or cases of unlawful discrimination or retaliation.