California employment law is strict about overtime. If your position qualifies for overtime, you are entitled to time-and-a-half pay for work beyond the normal eight-hour workday or 40-hour workweek. In some instances, you may even be entitled to double your normal pay.

You have the right to fair compensation under both federal and state law. Knowing your rights as an employee can help ensure that you are paid by your employer correctly and fairly for the overtime that you work.

Who Is Entitled To Overtime?

The Fair Labor Standards Act and the California Labor Code work together to regulate the California minimum wage, California overtime wages, and California overtime eligibility. According to these laws, your employer must pay you overtime rates if you work over 40 hours per week, whether they authorized the work or not.

However, there are cases that are carved out by law that are not required to pay overtime wages. In these cases, whether you qualify for overtime depends on your job — not whether you are paid on an hourly or salaried basis. Certain positions are exempt from overtime requirements. Examples include the following:

  • Executive exemption – Management roles
  • Administrative exemption – Some office workers, such as loan officers
  • Inside sales exemption – Workers earning substantial commissions and a base pay that is one-and-a-half times the California minimum wage
  • Outside sales exemption – Workers spending more than 50 percent of their time working away from the employer’s place of business
  • Computer sales professionals exemptions – Computer professionals working in creative environments
  • Professional exemption – Licensed professionals such as physicians, architects and educators
  • Commercial fishing boat crew members
  • Union employees
  • Criminal investigators
  • Some government employees
  • Relatives of the employer
  • Volunteers

How Much is Overtime Pay in California?

The standard rate of overtime pay in California is one-and-a-half times the normal rate of pay for that employee.  In some instances, double pay may be required if a California employee works more than 12 hours in any day or more than eight hours in the seventh consecutive day of work.

Travel Time Overtime Laws in California

While workers are not entitled to overtime pay for commutes to and from work, if your employer requires you to use company-provided transit to a separate worksite, those hours will count towards your workday hours. If your time traveling on a company-provided transit then exceeds what is required under law to work, you can receive overtime pay for those hours.

Additionally, if you travel as part of your employment, and regularly travel to different locations, the travel time will be considered as employment hours for purposes of overtime pay. However, it important to note that any time spent relaxing, eating, sleeping in a hotel or other activities that are not work-related will not be considered as part of the working hours that are eligible for overtime pay.

Also, if there is some emergency or unique circumstance that requires an employee to travel to and from a worksite that would take additional time, these hours may be considered as part of overtime pay.

Common Overtime Pay Issues in California – Have You Been Wrongfully Denied?

Employers sometimes try to save money by refusing to pay overtime. There are various ways they might violate state and federal overtime law.

Perhaps your employer misclassified your job as an exempt position when, in fact, your job is nonexempt.

Perhaps you are told to clock out before working extra hours; or maybe your employer doesn’t keep track of your hours.

Perhaps your employer gives you “comp time” instead of overtime pay. Or maybe your employer fails to compensate you for work-required travel.

Any of these scenarios might be overtime violations. The most common overtime pay issues in California are as follows:

  • Unauthorized overtime. Employers are still required to pay overtime pay even if the overtime hours were unauthorized.
  • Comp time. An employer is not allowed to substitute comp hours for overtime pay. However, an employee can request comp time in lieu of overtime pay, if certain conditions are met including a written agreement before the work is performed, the employee does not have more than 240 hours of comp time saved, and the employee is regularly scheduled for no less than a 40-hour workweek.
  • Missed meal breaks. Employees who work through a meal break must be paid, even if it ultimately ends up that doing so would put that employee into an overtime pay status.
  • Off-the-clock work. Anytime an employee is working for the employer it is considered a working hour. Preparing for a shop to open, changing into a special uniform, or customer service representatives who have to stay on a phone call even though their shift is over, are all examples of off-the-clock work that will still need to be reimbursed as working hours, even if it puts that employee into an overtime status for pay.
  • On-call time. There are some instances where an employer has a substantial ability to exercise control over the leisure time of an employee when they are off-duty. For example, if an employer has an employee on-call during a specific period of time where they are required to either come into work or do work from home immediately, those are all considered working hours.
  • Mandatory overtime. Any overtime that is mandatory will be considered for overtime pay. It is important to note that an employee may refuse to work overtime if they have worked 72 hours or more in the previous week.
  • Misleading job titles. An employer cannot simply assign an employee a specific job in order to avoid paying overtime. Labeling an employee as a non-manager, when they have all of the duties of a manager, is misclassification of an employee, and is a violation of the law.

Protecting Your Right To Fair Compensation

Do you suspect you have been wrongfully denied overtime pay? Talk to us before filing a claim with the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE). At Perkins Asbill, an employment law firm in Sacramento, we represent employees in overtime pay disputes. Our clients include hourly and salaried workers across many industries.

We believe you have the right to fair compensation in accordance with the law. We can help you enforce your right to overtime pay. You might be entitled to additional compensation as a penalty against your employer. Our lawyers can evaluate your outlook based on your job situation.

With more than 30 years of employment law experience, our lawyers know how to work through the intricacies of the California Labor Code, the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and other applicable law. Let our legal team stand by your side in challenging unfair wage practices. To get started, arrange a confidential consultation by calling (916) 446-2000.