Employees in California are entitled to certain rights regarding work hours and pay, including payment for overtime hours. California employment laws provide some of the strongest protections in the world for employees. If you suspect that your wage and hour rights have been violated, talk to a California employment law attorney about your options. You may be owed significant back pay.
Employment law basics: Overtime pay
In California, if you work more than eight hours in a workday, you are entitled to overtime pay at a rate of 1.5 times your regular rate of pay for every hour you work over eight. For example, if you work for 12 hours in a workday, you should be paid your regular rate for the first eight hours worked. Then, for the additional four hours, you should be paid 1.5 times your regular rate.
Additionally, if you work seven days in a row, you are entitled to 1.5 times your regular pay rate for the first eight hours worked.
Our overview of overtime rules in California offers more details.
What if you work unauthorized overtime?
According to California law, if you work overtime without prior authorization from your employer, you are still entitled to be paid for that time at the overtime rate. However, your employer may discipline you for working unauthorized overtime. For example, they might give you a written warning.
However, in some cases, employers find ways to pressure employees to work overtime hours, and then the employer tries to say that the employee didn’t have authorization to work those hours. This can amount to a hostile work environment, and employees need to know their rights and options if hostility is a regular part of the workplace.
There are some exceptions
While most workers in California are entitled to overtime pay, there are some exceptions. For instance, employees who are considered exempt from overtime include certain executives, professionals and administrative employees. It’s important to note that to qualify for these exemptions you must be on a salary basis, not hourly, and earn a certain amount per year.
Additionally, some workers such as outside salespeople, computer software professionals and commissioned employees of retail establishments may be exempt from overtime rules. This is because their job duties are not conducive to overtime hours.
If your employer has violated California’s overtime laws, you may be entitled to back pay and other damages. To learn more, please see our overview of when an employer fails to pay due wages.