Before The Great Depression, many employers were referred to as “slave drivers,” meaning they got the most out of their employees without paying them for the extra effort. By extra effort, we mean working well beyond what was known as “quitting time.”
Slave driving practices came to a screeching halt during the worst years of The Great Depression in the form of a landmark federal law called the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The FLSA established several protections for American workers that include ensuring employees get paid for working overtime.
Each of the 50 states eventually passed an employment law that mirrored the legal impact of the FLSA. California, which is known as a trendsetter for establishing groundbreaking laws, enacted an employment wage and hour law that protects state workers against overtime abuses.
Like the FLSA, California overtime statutes define working beyond your regular work schedule based on the length of a shift, as well as the number of hours you put in at work each week.
Eligibility for Overtime Pay in California
California overtime law protects most classes of employees, which includes a majority of salaried workers. However, there are a few classes of workers that do not receive the legal protections granted by California overtime statutes.
- Exempt employees that perform executive, administrative, or professional job tasks
- Outside sales representative
- A small number of union workers legally bound by a collective bargaining agreement
Workers in occupations that establish special overtime reporting procedures
Calculating Overtime Pay
Both California and federal overtime statutes require employers to pay overtime once a non-exempt worker exceeds 40 hours in a workweek. Employers set the workweek schedule that can start on any day of the week and end seven days later.
For example, a common workweek stretches from Monday to Sunday, while your employer might establish the workweek to run from Wednesday until the following Tuesday.
California law extends overtime protections to workers that put in more than eight hours in a single workday. Regardless of whether you work more than eight hours in one day or more than 40 hours in a workweek, California law requires your employer to pay you one and half times your regular wage. If you make $16 an hour for regular pay, your employer must compensate you $24 per hour for overtime pay. Once a California worker puts in more than 12 hours on the job in a single day, that worker is entitled to earn double the regular rate of pay.
Defining Regular Rate of Pay
California statutes base overtime pay on a worker’s regular rate of pay. For a worker that earns an hourly wage, defining the regular rate of pay is easy because it is the worker’s hourly wage. However, defining the regular rate of pay for a salaried employee requires a little math.
Salaried workers receive overtime pay based on a regular rate that is reached by first dividing an employee’s annual salary by 52 weeks. Then, take the weekly salaried regular rate and divide it by 40 hours, which represents the maximum amount of hours an employee can work at the regular rate of pay. Let’s say you earn a salary of $52,000 per year. Your weekly salary regular pay rate is $1,000. Divide $1,000 by 40 and you arrive at a regular rate of $25 per hour. Time and a half pay for overtime equals an hourly wage rate of $37.50.
How to Address California Overtime Law Violations
California workers have three options to address violations of state overtime statutes. First, they can resolve an overtime dispute with their employer, which avoids spending money on filing a claim. Second employees can submit an overtime violation claim with the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE). The third option to address overtime law violations in California is to file a civil lawsuit that requests monetary damages.
You have the right to hire an attorney before proceeding with any type of legal action against your employer for violating state and/or federal overtime laws. An experienced employment attorney can help you organize and submit the documents you need to persuade your employer to do the right thing. If your employer refuses to pay what you deserve in overtime, your lawyer either submits a claim to the DLSE or files a lawsuit in a California Superior Court.