In California, mandatory overtime pay is required in 3 circumstances. Time-and-a-half pay is required when a non-exempt employee works more than 8 hours in a day. Double-time pay is required when the employee works more than 12 hours. Employees who work 7 days straight are entitled to time-and-a-half pay for the first 8 hours, and double time for additional hours.
When are workers entitled to mandatory overtime pay in California?
California workers who are non-exempt are entitled to overtime pay in 3 situations:
- they work more than 8 hours in a single workday,
- they work more than 12 hours in a single workday, and
- they work 7 workdays in a row.
In workplaces that have adopted an alternative workweek schedule or a collective bargaining agreement, these rules can change.
In some cases, the worker is entitled to 1.5 times their regular rate of pay. In others, the worker is entitled to 2 times their regular rate of pay.
A worker’s regular rate of pay depends on how they are earning their wages. It is often referred to as “straight time.” An employee’s regular rate of pay is defined by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). It includes all remuneration for employment.1 The regular rate of pay also includes:
- piece rates,
- non-discretionary production bonuses,
- housing benefits,
- meals, and
- any goods or facilities received by the employee.2
However, the regular rate of pay does not include:
- payments made as gifts,
- sums given in the nature of gifts during the holidays,
- rewards for service not based on hours worked, productivity, or efficiency,
- reasonable traveling expenses,
- irrevocable contributions from the employer to a third party for the benefit of employees, like to a retirement plan or insurance coverage,
- compensation paid at a premium rate for excess hours worked, or
- income derived from stock options or stock purchase rights provided by the employer.3
For hourly workers, the base regular rate of pay is their hourly wage.4 Other potential forms of remuneration are added to this rate.
For salaried workers, the regular rate of pay is their regular hourly rate. This is calculated by multiplying the worker’s monthly remuneration by 12 to get the worker’s yearly salary. The yearly salary is then divided by 52 to get the worker’s weekly remuneration. The weekly remuneration is then divided by the maximum number of hours that can be worked at regular pay – often 40.5
For piece workers or commission-based workers who earn income by their productivity, the regular rate of pay is often the total earnings for a week, divided by the number of hours worked.6
The regular rate of pay serves as the baseline for an employee’s overtime payments. If employers pay less than the proper amount, aggrieved workers can file a wage claim.
1. More than 8 hours in a workday
Non-exempt employees in California are entitled to overtime pay for every hour they work in excess of 8 hours in a single workday. This overtime pay is equal to 1.5 times their regular rate of pay.
Under California employment law, a day’s work is 8 hours.7 Once a non-exempt employee has spent more than 8 hours on the job, each additional hour is paid with overtime pay. Hours 9 through 12 are paid at 1.5 times the worker’s regular rate.
For example: Clara is paid $20 per hour. One day, she works 9 hours. She is paid $20 per hour for her first 8, and then $30 per hour for her hour of overtime.
2. More than 12 hours in a workday
When a non-exempt employee works more than 12 hours in a single workday, he or she is entitled to 2 times their regular rate of pay. They are entitled to double pay for every hour worked after their 12th.8
For example: Clara is asked to cover a coworker’s shift. She ends up working 14 hours in one day. Her first 8 hours are paid at her regular rate of $20 per hour. Her next 4 hours of work are paid at $30 per hour. Her final 2 hours are paid double-time at $40 per hour.
3. 7 days in a single workweek
Non-exempt employees are also entitled to overtime pay if they work 7 days in a workweek. Employees working a 7th day are entitled to 1.5 times their regular rate of pay for the first 8 hours on the clock. They are entitled to 2 times their regular rate of pay for any additional hour.9
For example: Clara, who makes $20 per hour, is called in to work for a 7th day in a row and works 9 hours. Her first 8 hours are paid at $30 per hour. Her last hour is paid at $40 per hour.
What about non-exempt employees working in an alternative work schedule?
An alternative workweek schedule, or AWS, structures the hours in a workweek differently than normal. Usually, an AWS will increase the number of hours worked in a single workday, in order to reduce the number of workdays in a single workweek.
Some common alternative workweek schedules adopted by California employers include:
- a 4-day workweek with 10-hour days (called a 4/10 work week),
- 3 days of 10 hours, and 2 more days of 5 hours, and
- biweekly periods that consist of 8 workdays of 9 hours each, 1 workday of 8 hours, and 1 extra day off (known as a 9/80 schedule because it spreads 80 working hours over 9 days).
In workplaces that have adopted an AWS, the overtime wages are different. Overtime at 1.5 times the worker’s regular rate of pay is only paid if the employee works more than:
- the regularly scheduled number of hours under the AWS, or
- 40 hours in a workweek.10
Double time is only paid if the employee works in excess of:
- 12 hours in a single workday, or
- 8 hours in a day that is not in the AWS’s regularly scheduled workdays.11
These alternative schedules can make it difficult to distinguish between full-time work and overtime. Employees who think they may have an overtime claim should consider getting the legal advice of an employment attorney from a reputable law firm.
Are California overtime laws more generous than federal ones?
Yes, California’s state laws are more favorable to workers than federal laws dealing with overtime.
The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires overtime pay for all hours worked by a non-exempt employee in excess of a 40-hour workweek.12 Overtime pay is one-and-one-half times the worker’s regular rate of pay.
California’s overtime law is more generous than the FLSA overtime requirements in the following ways:
- it offers double-time pay for hours worked well in excess of normal,
- it offers an overtime rate for hours worked during a seventh consecutive day on the job, and
- it offers overtime pay for hours worked in excess of 8 hours in a single workday.
California employees benefit from one of the most generous overtime compensation wage laws in the country.
Can salaried employees work overtime?
Yes, salaried employees may be entitled to overtime pay, so long as they are non-exempt. If they fall into a category of workers who are exempted from California’s wage and hour laws, then they cannot earn extra pay for overtime work.
Salaried employees are only exempt from overtime laws if they meet the legal definition of an exempt worker under the California Labor Code. Employers cannot make a worker exempt from wage and hour laws simply by paying them a salary or having them agree to the classification in the employment contract.
The 3 most common types of exempt workers are:
- executive, administrative, and professional employees, also known as the “white-collar exemption,”13
- doctors and surgeons and some other health care workers,14 and
- employees who earn more than half of their income from commissions.15
These are some of the exempt workers who will not be entitled to extra pay for extra hours. Additionally, independent contractors are also not subject to California’s overtime rules. These exempt workers are also not regulated by minimum wage rules under California labor law or wage orders from the California Industrial Welfare Commission.
Do meal and rest breaks change the number of hours worked?
California law entitles non-exempt employees to meal and rest breaks. The rest breaks are counted in the number of hours used to calculate overtime hours. Meal breaks, however, are not counted, unless the worker is asked to work during the break.16
- 29 USC 207.
- 29 CFR 778.110 and 778.111 and Walling v. Youngerman-Reynolds Hardwood Co., 65 S.Ct. 1242 (1945).
- 29 USC 207(e).
- 29 CFR 778.110.
- California Labor Code 515 LAB.
- 29 CFR 778.111 and 778.118.
- California Labor Code 510 LAB.
- California Labor Code 511(b) LAB.
- 29 CFR 778.107.
- 8 California Code of Regulations (CCR) 11040(1)(A).
- California Labor Code 515.6 LAB.
- 8 CCR 11040(3)(D).
- 8 CCR 11040(11) – (12).