Overtime pay in california

Overtime Pay in California: Don’t Get Shortchanged!

California is known for its strong employee protections, and overtime pay is no exception. Working long hours is a reality for many Californians. But not everyone gets paid extra for those extra hours. As with any legal matter, there’s often more than meets the eye.

The Good News: Extra Pay for Extra Time

  • Generally, you get overtime pay (time-and-a-half, or 1.5 times your regular hourly rate) for any hours you work over 8 in a day or over 40 in a week. 
  • Working on your seventh consecutive day also triggers overtime, but only for the first 8 hours.
  • You can also get twice your regular hourly rate for any hours you work over 12 in a day or over 8 on the seventh consecutive workday.

The Not-So-Simple Part: Exemptions and Special Rules

While these rules seem straightforward, there are complexities and exceptions to consider. For example, if you have a union contract with specific overtime rules, those might apply instead. Some work schedules may also spread your 40 hours over fewer days with more hours like a 9/80 or 4/10 schedule. With these, overtime only kicks in if you work more than your total scheduled hours in a week, or more than 12 hours a day or 40 hours a week.

Then there is the question of whether your job is “exempt.” Independent contractors, like freelancers, don’t qualify for overtime. Though the California Supreme Court recently simplified the test to determine whether someone has been misclassified as an independent contractor, the California Legislature has since enacted laws adopting a more complicated, nuanced, multi-factor test for various industries and job types and carved out other exceptions to the Court’s holding. 

Finally, maybe you have been classified as an “exempt” employee under the administrative, executive, or professional exemptions. These exemptions can involve intensive fact-based analyses to determine if they apply. But keep in mind, just because you are paid a salary or are called a “manager” does not mean that you are exempt from California’s overtime laws. 

Potential other exemptions include:

  • The commissioned salesperson exemption: Employees who earn more than 1.5 times minimum wage and spend over half their time involved in sales activities are exempt from overtime rules as long as they earn commission payments that amount to more than half their total compensation.
  • The outside salesperson exemption: Employees engaged in the selling of tangible items or obtaining orders or contracts for products, services, or use of facilities who customarily and regularly work more than 50% their work time away from the employer’s place of business are exempt.
  • The computer professional exemption: Certain highly skilled and highly-paid computer professionals whose duties involve analyzing, designing, developing, testing, creating, or modifying computer systems or programs are exempt if certain strict requirements related to job duties, education levels, and minimum hourly pay levels are met.

Other, more narrowly applied exemptions exist for certain truck drivers, some farmworkers, camp staff, managers of non-profit organizations, and employees of some transportation services and telecommunications companies, among others.

Valerian Law: Protecting Overtime Pay in California

As you can probably tell, navigating these rules and all the exemptions can be complicated. If you suspect you’re not receiving proper overtime pay, you should consult with an experienced California employment lawyer to work through all the details. An attorney can help you determine if you’re exempt, analyze your workweek schedule, and ensure you’re receiving the overtime compensation you’ve rightfully earned.

Remember, just because your job sounds like it might be exempt, or your boss tells you that you are exempt, does not mean that you are. Many California employers routinely deny overtime pay to their workers; it’s part of the nearly $2 billion of wages that employers steal from workers in California each year. Don’t assume your employer has properly paid you until you have had your situation evaluated. Holding employers accountable is important both for your own rights and ensuring fair practices for all workers. Contact Valerian Law now to ensure fair treatment and uphold justice in the workplace. Your rights matter.