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Must your employer pay you for unauthorized overtime hours?

On Behalf of | Mar 4, 2020 | Wage & Hour Law

Many California employers are adamant about restricting overtime. As a result, they may not allow overtime hours unless the employer approves it. However, instances may arise in which you cannot avoid working overtime, even if your employer did not approve it beforehand.

When you receive your paycheck that should include the overtime hours, you may wonder whether your pay will reflect the increase in wages you should have earned. If your check does not look like your employer included your time-and-a-half for overtime, you may wonder whether your employer has to pay since he or she did not authorize the overtime first.

Payment is still required

Under state law, your employer is required to pay you for overtime hours worked, even if he or she did not approve the overtime beforehand. This means that if you worked overtime hours and your employer did not pay you for those hours, he or she has likely committed wage theft. You can speak with your employer about the matter, and if it appears that he or she will not provide those earned wages, you may need to take additional action.

It is important to keep in mind that if you took measures to prevent your employer from knowing you worked overtime, you may not have the ability to claim the time-and-a-half pay. Your employer is only obligated to pay overtime when he or she knew or should have known that you worked those additional hours.

Can your employer punish you for unauthorized overtime?

If unapproved or unauthorized overtime is against company policy, you can still face disciplinary action from your employer. However, that discipline cannot come in the form of withholding your earned wages. Instead, your employer will have to carry out an appropriate punishment for the offense. It is possible that the intended disciplinary action is listed in the policy and possibly the employee handbook, if you have one.

How can you address unpaid overtime?

If you believe that your employer has not properly paid you for overtime hours, authorized or unauthorized, you may need to consider your legal options. In some cases, employers may unlawfully withhold wages and cause hardships for workers. Speaking with a California employment law attorney may help you determine your best courses of action for addressing this type of ordeal and obtaining the wages you deserve.