But workers in California are also entitled to double-time pay (or twice their regular rate) when they work more than 12 hours in a single workday, or more than 8 hours on their seventh consecutive day of work.
This chart illustrates overtime and double-time:
|Overtime pay for non-exempt employees ||What triggers overtime pay in California |
|Time-and-a-half pay|| |
|Double-time pay|| |
What are California’s overtime pay laws?
California labor laws require employers to pay non-exempt employees at least 1.5 times their regular wage rate for working past:
- 8 hours in a single workday,
- 40 hours in a single workweek, or
- 6 days in a single workweek.1
These rules do not apply to:
- exempt employees, or
- independent contractors.
They also do not apply to non-exempt employees who have agreed to work an alternative workweek schedule.2 These schedules have to be agreed to by at least two-thirds of the affected employees.
The schedules can require workers to be on the clock for up to 10 hours per day without accruing overtime. Employees on alternative workweek schedules are still owed overtime if they:
- work longer than the number of hours on the alternative schedule, or
- work more than 40 hours in a single workweek.3
Collective bargaining agreements or union contracts between unionized employees and their employers can also stipulate exceptions to overtime pay rules.4
When does an employee earn double time?
A non-exempt employee begins to make double-time pay, rather than just overtime pay, whenever they work:
- more than 12 hours in a single workday, or
- more than 8 hours on their 7th day of work.5
Example: Bob is a construction worker. He is a full-time employee and is non-exempt. His normal rate of pay is $20 per hour.
To meet a construction deadline, Bob’s boss adds hours to his work schedule. Over the course of one week, Bob works 7 straight 14-hour days, not counting meal or rest breaks. In all, his work time ends up being 98 total hours.
In addition to his straight-time pay, Bob is entitled to time-and-a-half overtime pay at $30 per hour for the ninth through twelfth hours he worked for the first six days. He is also entitled to overtime premium, or double-time work pay, at $40 per hour for the thirteenth and fourteenth hours he worked those first six days, plus for all 14 hours he worked on the seventh day of work.
Am I entitled to overtime pay if my boss did not request the extra work?
In California, if an employee works overtime but was not told to do so, or if the work was not approved in advance, he or she is still entitled to receive overtime pay. This is the case so long as the employer had a reason to know that the worker was still on the clock.6
Just because employees are entitled to receive overtime wages if their employer “suffers or permits” them to work extra hours, though, does not mean that employees cannot be disciplined for doing so. Many employers have workplace policies that forbid their employees from working unauthorized overtime hours. Violating these policies can lead to discipline or termination.
Do California overtime laws let exempt employees earn double-time pay?
California state law neither requires nor forbids employers from paying exempt employees at one-and-one-half times their regular rate of pay for overtime work. Employers can even pay these salaried employees a double-time hour rate, if they want to.
However, few employers choose to do so. Those that do pay exempt employees an overtime rate often do so in order to:
- boost employee morale,
- build employee loyalty, or
- incentivize hard work.
Computing overtime is more difficult for exempt employees than for non-exempt workers, though. Employers have to account for other forms of pay, like some bonuses or commission payments, which can alter an exempt employee’s regular hourly rate. For non-exempt employees, overtime and double time can just be added to the regular hours of work in the 40-hour workweek.
What is the difference between an exempt and a non-exempt worker?
Non-exempt workers are employees protected by California’s wage and hour laws and federal laws like the United States Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Exempt employees, on the other hand, are exempted from these legal protections in the workplace.
The employment laws that cover non-exempt workers include:
- minimum wage laws,
- rest and meal breaks, and
- overtime provisions.
Exempt workers have an exemption from these important legal protections. However, in California, these workers are entitled to a minimum weekly salary of at least twice the applicable minimum hourly wage for full-time work.7
The largest category of exempt workers is white-collar employees: Executive, administrative, and professional workers who exercise their own discretion and independent judgment in the workplace. Because they are exempt, they rarely receive overtime or double-time wages.
For more information, refer to the following:
- Overtime Pay – U.S. Department of Labor overview of federal overtime pay requirements under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
- Overtime – Relevant articles by the Economic Policy Institute.
- Overtime – Overview of laws by Worker.gov.
- FLSA Overtime Calculator Advisor for Nonexempt Employees – Tool for employers by the U.S. Department of Labor.
- What is Overtime vs. Double Time? – Article by a payroll company.