When Am I Entitled to Overtime Pay Under California Law?
Under California law, an employee is generally entitled to overtime pay if they work more than 8 hours per day or 40 hours in a given workweek. While that sounds simple enough, the law is actually quite a bit more complicated when you start applying it to specific cases. So here is a basic guide to understanding how overtime works in California.
Exempt vs. Nonexempt Employees
The first thing you need to understand is that only “nonexempt” employees are entitled to overtime pay. An “exempt” employee is someone who is not covered–or “exempt”–by overtime and certain other labor laws. One of the most common exemptions is for salaried workers in “executive, administrative, and professional” positions. But there are also exemptions for workers in specific fields, such as taxicab drivers, outside salespersons, and individuals working in a family business.
There are also a number of “exceptions” to the general overtime law. These exceptions cover certain special cases. For example, employees in the healthcare industry who are part of a valid “alternative workweek schedule” may work as much as 12 hours per day without receiving overtime pay.
Overtime Rates and “Double Time”
When an exception does not apply, however, the normal rule is that you must receive overtime if you work more than 8 hours per day. Note this is a state-specific rule. The Fair Labor Standards Act, which governs overtime at the federal level, only applies to employees who work more than 40 hours in a 7-day workweek.
California also requires “double time” in certain situations. Basically, if you work more than 8, but less than 12, hours in a given workday, you must be paid the basic overtime rate of 1.5 times your regular rate of pay. But if you work more than 12 hours in a day, you must be paid double your regular rate of pay.
There are also special overtime rules applicable to employees required to work 7 consecutive days during a single workweek. On the seventh workday, the employer must pay 1.5 times the amount the employee’s regular rate of pay for the first 8 hours worked. If the employee works more than 8 hours on the seventh consecutive day, the employer must pay double time.
What Is My “Regular Rate of Pay”?
You will notice that overtime rates are based on an employee’s “regular rate of pay.” But what exactly does that mean? For most hourly workers, this is simply their normal wage. For instance, if you always make $15 per hour, then your overtime rate is 1.5 times that amount, or $22.50 per hour. If your hourly wage varies–say you get extra pay for working certain shifts–your regular rate of pay is calculated using a weighted average.
If you are normally paid on salary or commission, there are more complex rules in place for determining your regular rate and overtime rates of pay. If you require additional guidance in this area, you should consult with a qualified California employment law attorney.