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 workday.
- Double-time pay is required when you work more than 12 hours in a workday.
- 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.1
What is my regular rate of pay?
If you are an hourly worker, your base regular rate of pay is your hourly wage.2 Other potential forms of remuneration are added to this rate.3
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; and then
- dividing your yearly salary by 52 to get your weekly remuneration; and then
- dividing your weekly remuneration by the maximum number of hours that can be worked at regular pay – often 40.4
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.5
What else is included in your regular rate of pay
Your regular rate of pay also includes:
- piece rates,
- non-discretionary production bonuses,
- housing benefits,
- meals, and
- any goods or facilities received by you.6
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.7
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.
Regular rate of pay is also called “straight time pay.”
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.
Common alternative workweek schedules adopted by California employers include:
- a 4-day workweek with 10-hour days (called a 4/10 workweek),
- 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 at 1.5 times your regular rate of pay only if you work more than:
- the regularly scheduled number of hours under the AWS, or
- 40 hours in a workweek.
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.8
Are California overtime laws more generous than federal ones?
Yes. The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires one-and-a-half pay for all hours you worked in excess of a 40-hour workweek.9 California’s overtime law is more generous than the FLSA 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.
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.
The 3 most common types of exempt workers are:
- executive, administrative, and professional employees, also known as the “white-collar exemption,”10
- doctors and surgeons and some other health care workers,11 and
- employees who earn more than half of their income from commissions.12
Additionally, independent contractors are also not subject to California’s overtime rules.
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.13
Can an employer force me 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.14
Can an employer have me work “off the clock?”
No, off the clock work – which is where your employer has you doing work for no pay – is not allowed.
Keep track of your hours in the event that your employer tries to manipulate your time sheets. Sometimes employers shave off your time in an effort to pay you straight pay instead of the overtime pay you are entitled to.
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.15
For more information on California overtime law, refer to the following:
- Industrial Welfare Commission Wage Orders – Laws on specific occupations that may have different overtime regulations.
- How to file a wage claim – Instructions provided by the California Labor Commissioner.
- Free overtime calculator – A program provided by Forbes that lets you input your salary and hours so you can estimate what your paycheck should be.
- An overview of overtime laws by state – A comparison provided by an employment software company.
- Fair Labor: A Brief History of Overtime in America – Audio story by The Takeaway.
- California Labor Code 510 LAB.
- 29 CFR 778.110.
- 29 USC 207. Your regular rate of pay is defined by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). It includes all remuneration for employment.
- California Labor Code 515 LAB.
- 29 CFR 778.111 and 778.118.
- 29 CFR 778.110 and 778.111 and Walling v. Youngerman-Reynolds Hardwood Co. (1945) 65 S.Ct. 1242.
- 29 USC 207(e).
- 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.