There is no federal law that limits the number of days you can work in a row. However, some states require a day off every week. If you are a non-exempt worker, you may be entitled to overtime pay or double-time pay if you work more than a certain number of hours in a week.
Does federal law restrict how many days in a row I can work?
No, there is no federal law that limits how many days you can work in a row. If you want to work a lot of days in a row without a day off, you can. If your employer demands you to work for numerous days without a rest day, it can. However, federal law does require employers to pay overtime to non-exempt workers who work too many hours in a workweek.
This does not necessarily mean that your state’s employment law will not have additional protections for workers.
Do any state labor laws require a day off?
State labor laws can limit how many days you work in a row. However, only a few states have these laws, which are known as “One Day Rest in Seven” laws. Those that do have one of these laws forbid employers from requiring you to work 7 days in a row.
New York is one example.
There, employers are required to give their employees at least 24 consecutive hours of rest in a calendar week. However, the law only applies to certain employees of the following types of employers:
- mercantile establishments,
- freight or passenger elevators,
- movie theaters,
- theaters, and
- office buildings.1
Other states also have One Day Rest in Seven laws. Some of these include:
- Massachusetts,4 and
The penalties for violating these laws depend on the state. For example, in Illinois, employers can face a fine that depends on how many workers they have:
- if they have 24 or fewer employees, $250 per offense, and
- if they have 25 or more employees, $500 per offense.6
Employers in Illinois also have to pay an amount equal to the fine to each employee affected.7
Generally, though, these laws do not apply when a full-time employee works under a collective bargaining agreement.
When am I entitled to overtime pay?
If you work more than 40 hours in a workweek, you are entitled to overtime pay under federal law. State employment law may be more generous than that, though.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is the federal law that mandates overtime pay, as well as other employment issues like a minimum wage. It requires overtime pay of 1.5, or one and one-half, times your regular rate of pay if you work over 40 hours in a workweek.8 It only applies to non-exempt workers, however.
Under the FLSA, a workweek is a fixed set of 7 consecutive 24-hour periods. It can begin at any point during the calendar week but, once set, it cannot be changed to manipulate how many hours you work in a week.9
If you work lots of days in a row, you are likely to accrue more than 40 hours of work. You are entitled to overtime pay for every hour you work after your 40th. However, if you do not work many hours each day, you may not be entitled to overtime pay under federal law. State laws, however, may be more generous in their overtime provisions.
What is the law in California?
California labor law protects workers in 2 ways that affect how many days you can work in a row:
- it requires rest days every workweek, and
- it provides more overtime pay.
These protections are stronger than those provided by the federal FLSA. If your employer violates them, they can face a wage and hour lawsuit that can lead to civil penalties. In some cases, your employer may even be committing a crime.
You can invoke your rights with the legal advice of an employment attorney.
Rest days every week
California is one of the states that has a One Day Rest in Seven law. This law forbids employers from requiring covered employees to work more than 6 out of 7 days in a week.10
That required day of rest has to come every calendar week, not every 7 days.11 This means that you can work up to 12 days in a row without triggering the law’s protections.
For example: On week 1, Larry is given Sunday off. He then works Monday through Saturday. On week 2, Larry works Sunday through Friday and then gets Saturday off.
Not all employees are covered by this law, though. 2 major exemptions are for workers who:
- are part-time, do not work more than 30 hours in the week, and do not work 6 or more hours on any day during that week,12 or
- perform emergency services that are necessary to protect life or property damage, or maintain trains.13
The workers who provide emergency services, however, are entitled to a monthly equivalent of 1 day of rest per week.14
Employees who are covered by the law can still choose to work all 7 days in a week. Before you do so, though, your employer has to tell you about your rights to an off day and cannot encourage you to waive them.15
Employers who violate California’s One Day Rest in Seven law commit a crime. It is a misdemeanor.16 They have to pay you your lost wages as well as a civil fine of:
- for a first violation, $50 for each pay period for each affected employee,
- for subsequent violations, $100 for each pay period for each affected employee, and
- the amount of the underpaid wages.17
California’s overtime laws can also activate if you work more than 6 days in a row.
Unlike federal overtime laws, California’s entitle non-exempt employees to overtime pay if they work more than 6 consecutive days in a workweek.18 However, those days cannot straddle 2 workweeks. Your employer sets your workweek.
For example: Kelly’s workweek begins on Tuesdays. Her current work schedule has her working 7 straight days, from Thursday of week 1 to Wednesday of week 2. She is not entitled to overtime due to her consecutive days worked because the seven-day period straddles 2 workweeks. The first 5 days are in her first workweek, while the last 2 are in her second. She may still be entitled to overtime for another reason, though, like the number of hours she works.
You may even be entitled to double-time pay if you work numerous days in a row.
In California, you are entitled to double-time pay – or twice your normal rate of pay – for hours worked beyond the eighth hour of your seventh day of work in the workweek.19 Just like with overtime pay, though, those 7 days cannot straddle 2 workweeks.
- New York Labor Code 161.
- California Labor Code section 551 and 552 LAB.
- 820 ILCS 140/2.
- Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 149, Section 48.
- Wisconsin Statute 103.85.
- 820 ILCS 140/7(a).
- 29 USC 207(a).
- 29 CFR 778.105.
- California Labor Code 552 LAB.
- Mendoza v. Nordstrom, Inc., 2 Cal.5th 1074 (2017).
- California Labor Code 556 LAB and Mendoza v. Nordstrom, Inc., supra note 11.
- California Labor Code 554(a) LAB.
- Mendoza v. Nordstrom, Inc., supra note 11.
- California Labor Code 553 LAB.
- California Labor Code 558(a) LAB.
- California Labor Code 510 LAB.