In California, mandatory overtime pay is required for non-exempt employees in 3 circumstances.
- Time-and-a-half pay is required when you work more than 8 hours in a day.
- Double-time pay is required when you work more than 12 hours.
- If you work 7 days straight, you are entitled to time-and-a-half pay for the first 8 hours, and double time for additional hours.
When am I entitled to mandatory overtime pay in California?
If you are a non-exempt California worker, you are entitled to overtime pay in 3 situations:
- you work more than 8 hours in a single workday,
- you work more than 12 hours in a single workday, and
- you 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, you are entitled to 1.5 times your regular rate of pay. In others, you are entitled to 2 times your regular rate of pay.
Your regular rate of pay depends on how you are earning your wages. It is often referred to as “straight time.” Your 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 you.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
If you are an hourly worker, the base regular rate of pay is your hourly wage.4 Other potential forms of remuneration are added to this rate.
If you are a salaried worker, the regular rate of pay is your regular hourly rate. This is calculated by multiplying your monthly remuneration by 12 to get your yearly salary. The yearly salary is then divided by 52 to get your weekly remuneration. The weekly remuneration is then divided by the maximum number of hours that can be worked at regular pay – often 40.5
If you are a piece worker or commission-based worker who earns income by your 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 your overtime payments. If employers pay less than the proper amount, you can file a wage claim.
1. More than 8 hours in a workday
If you are a non-exempt employee in California, you are entitled to overtime pay for every hour you work in excess of 8 hours in a single workday. This overtime pay is equal to 1.5 times your regular rate of pay.
Under California employment law, a day’s work is 8 hours.7 Once you have 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 your 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
If you are a non-exempt employee, and you work more than 12 hours in a single workday, you are entitled to 2 times your regular rate of pay. You are entitled to double pay for every hour worked after your 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
If you are a non-exempt employee, you are also entitled to overtime pay if you work 7 days in a workweek. If you work a 7th day, you are entitled to 1.5 times your regular rate of pay for the first 8 hours on the clock. You are entitled to 2 times your 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 if I have 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 your regular rate of pay is only paid if you work more than:
- the regularly scheduled number of hours under the AWS, or
- 40 hours in a workweek.10
Double time is only paid if you work 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. If you think you may have an overtime claim, 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 you than federal laws dealing with overtime for non-exempt employees.
The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires overtime pay for all hours you worked in excess of a 40-hour workweek.12 Overtime pay is one-and-one-half times your 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.
As a California employee, you benefit from one of the most generous overtime compensation wage laws in the country.
Can I work overtime if I am salaried?
Yes. If you are a salaried employee, you may be entitled to overtime pay so long as you are non-exempt. If you fall into a category of workers who are exempted from California’s wage and hour laws, then you cannot earn extra pay for overtime work.
As a salaried employee, you are exempt from overtime laws only if you meet the legal definition of an exempt worker under the California Labor Code. Employers cannot make you exempt from wage and hour laws simply by paying you a salary or having you 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 you to meal and rest breaks if you are a non-exempt employee. The rest breaks are counted in the number of hours used to calculate overtime hours. Meal breaks, however, are not counted, unless you are asked to work during the break.16
Can an employer force you to do overtime?
Your employer can require you to work overtime, and they can fire you if you refuse. Though there are conditions in California:
- If you are a non-exempt employee, you must receive overtime pay in accordance with California law;
- The overtime schedule cannot violate your employment contract (if applicable); and
- The overtime schedule cannot pose a health or safety risk.17
Can I waive my right to overtime pay?
No. As a non-exempt employee in California, you may not waive your right to earn overtime pay. Even if you sign an employment contract where you agree to work at your standard rate of pay for overtime hours, the court will not enforce it.18
Depending on your industry, there may be some specific limits of overtime. To determine if there are any overtime limits, make sure you check the Industrial Welfare Commission Wage Orders.
- 29 USC 207.
- 29 CFR 778.110 and 778.111 and Walling v. Youngerman-Reynolds Hardwood Co. (1945) 65 S.Ct. 1242.
- 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).
- See Overtime, Department of Industrial Relations. Wilson v. County of Santa Clara (Court of Appeal of California, First Appellate District, Division One, 1977) 68 Cal. App. 3d 78.
- See, for example, Arechiga v. Dolores Press, Inc. (Court of Appeal of California, Second Appellate District, Division Eight, 2011) 192 Cal. App. 4th 567.