California wage and hour laws are much more protective of employees than the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Under FLSA, companies are required to pay overtime compensation only to employees work more than 40 hours in a single workweek. In this article we'll take a look at the overtime rules in California.
Under the California Labor Code, companies are also required to pay employees overtime compensation for working more than 40 hour in a week.
In addition to the 40-hour workweek overtime pay rule, California also requires companies to pay overtime when employees work:
This might not seem like a big difference, but it is. One of the most common violations that occurs under California law, for example, is that companies implement compensatory (comp) time schemes.
Suppose a California company wants to avoid paying employees overtime compensation for working more than eight hours in a workday.
The company may say something to an employee like, "since you worked 10 hours today, you can work 6 hours tomorrow." When this happens, the employee will have worked only 40 hours at the end of the week, and therefore would not be entitled to overtime compensation under the FLSA.
However, the company is violating state overtime law by not paying the employee overtime for working more than 8 hours in a single workday. Even if an employee works only one day of the week, the employee is entitled to overtime for working more than eight hours on that day.
Although California's overtime rules are strict, the state lacks the resources to investigate and penalize every company that breaks the law. For this reason, state law deputizes private "overtime attorneys" to sue companies for wage and hour overtime violations on behalf of the state.
Given California's current economic turmoil, reporting overtime violations is more important than ever. Not only do individual employees whose rights are being violated benefit, but the state's tax coffers do as well. More wages paid to employees means more taxable income for the state of California.
In California, non-exempt employees are entitled to overtime pay for any hours worked over 8 hours in a day or 40 hours in a workweek. Overtime pay is calculated at 1.5 times the employee's regular rate of pay for all hours worked over these thresholds.
In addition, employees are entitled to double the regular rate of pay for any hours worked over 12 hours in a day or for any hours worked over eight hours on the seventh consecutive day of work.
No, only non-exempt employees are entitled to overtime pay in California. Exempt employees, such as executives, administrative employees, and professional employees, are exempt from overtime pay requirements under certain conditions.
Employers who violate California's overtime rules may be subject to penalties and fines, including back pay for any unpaid overtime wages, liquidated damages, and attorney's fees.
Employers may also be subject to civil penalties for willful or intentional violations of the overtime rules. Employees who have been denied overtime pay can file a complaint with the California Labor Commissioner's Office or file a lawsuit against their employer.
If you haven't been paid overtime that you're entitled to under the law, your first step should be to raise the issue with your employer or its human resources department. If that doesn't resolve the issue, you can file a wage claim with the state of California Labor Commissioner. If you have questions about filing such a claim, or your claim is denied, contact an employment law attorney.