3 Ways To Accrue Overtime In California
California's overtime laws can be complicated. In fact, unbeknownst to most workers, there are three ways to earn overtime in California. Additionally there is more than one overtime rate. This guide explains when workers are entitled to be paid overtime and at what rate.
Daily Overtime - More than 8 hours in a day.Employees who work more than 8 hours in a single workday should typically be paid at 1.5 times their regular hourly rate. So an employee making $10 per hour is entitled to $15 per hour for working overtime. Additionally, employees who work more than 12 hours in a workday are entitled to be paid at twice their regular hourly rate. So that same person is entitled to be paid $20 per hour for each additional hour he works after 12 in a day.
Example: Joe makes $10 per hour and works a 15 hour shift on Monday. Joe is entitled to be paid $10 per hour for the first 8 hours. Because he worked more than 8 hours, he earns $15 per hour for working hours 9 through 12. Finally, he is entitled to be paid $20 per hour for working hours 13-15.
Weekly Overtime - More than 40 hours in a week.The second way employees earn overtime in California is by working more than 40 regular hours in a workweek. Once a person has worked 40 hours in a workweek, he has to be at least 1.5 times his regular hourly rate for every other hour during the week.
The tricky part is determining what is a "regular hour." A regular hour is all non-overtime hours. So the first 8 hours in a workday are "regular hours." Overtime hours are not counted towards meeting the 40-hour requirement.
Example: Sabrina works Monday through Saturday. On Monday and Tuesday Sabrina works 10 hours each day. On Wednesday through Saturday, Sabrina works 8 hours on each of those days. Sabrina does not start earning weekly overtime until Saturday because she only reaches 40 regular hours (non-overtime) requirement on Saturday. From Saturday on, every single hour she works for the remainder of the workweek is overtime.
7th-Consecutive Day Overtime - 7 consecutive days without a day off.The final way you can earn overtime is by working 7 consecutive days during your a workweek. Under most circumstances, if you are not provided with a day of rest during the workweek, all hours you work on the 7th consecutive day are overtime. For the first 8 hours of the 7th day, workers are entitled to be paid 1.5 times their regular hourly rate.
For anything after the first 8 hours on the 7th day, they are entitled to be paid double-time, or 2x their regular hourly rate.
When a "workweek" starts is not always clear. Companies have discretion to set the day on which their workweeks begin. Many companies will designate a Wednesday or Thursday as the middle of their week. This is often done because a company's busy days, and therefore the days they are most likely to incur overtime, falls on weekends.
Example: Sam works 6 hours per day, seven days per week. Sam's company has designated 12:00 a.m. Wednesday as the beginning of each workweek. Sam works Wednesday through the following Tuesday. On Tuesday, Sam works 10 hours. Sam is entitled to be paid for the first 8 hours on Tuesday at the rate of 1.5 times his hourly rate. Additionally, Sam earns two times his hourly rate for working the ninth, tenth and eleventh hour on that day.
Damages for failing to properly pay overtimeEmployees who are not properly paid overtime as described above are entitled to all unpaid wages and in most instance significant damages or penalties. These damages can include amounts equal to the unpaid wages. Employees are also entitled to penalties of up to 30 days worth of wages if the employer fails to pay any amount (even $10) of overtime owed.
Time limitations for filing a claim for unpaid overtimeAs with most laws, employees have only a limited amount of time to recover unpaid wages. This is called a statute of limitations. Employees are able to go back 4 years to recover unpaid wages. That means that if an employee has been denied overtime for 5 years, he can only go back for the last 4 years to recover unpaid wages. If the clock is running, it is critical to take steps to preserve your ability to go and get these wages.
Independent Contractors are not entitled to overtimeLike most other protections under California law, independent contractors are not entitled to be paid overtime. In fact, they are not even entitled to be paid the minimum wage. However, employers commonly misclassify or mischaracterize employees as independent contractors. And it is often the case that if someone is being paid an hourly wage instead of a flat-rate/per project fee, they have been misclassified and are in fact entitled to be paid overtime.