California Overtime Law

California Overtime Law

California Overtime Law

Business owners in California must understand which employees are entitled to overtime pay and when. This article will address those stipulations and much more.

What Are California's Overtime Law and Requirements?

California overtime is to be paid to nonexempt employees who are 18 or older. Employees who are 16 or 17 years old and not required by law to attend school are also eligible to receive overtime pay. This law includes nonexempt employees who are salaried, paid hourly, and those who are paid via piece rate. These employees are required to receive one and a half times their regular rate of pay for all hours exceeding eight hours in a workday and 40 hours in a workweek. 

California overtime law requires employers to pay these employees twice their regular pay when more than 12 hours are performed in a workday or more than eight hours on their seventh consecutive working day.

Employees who are qualified must receive twice their standard pay when they work more than 12 hours in a workday. It's important to note that this law is different than the federal overtime law. The California overtime law does not apply to everyone and has many exemptions. If you are not sure who is exempt from the California overtime law, OnTheClock recommends visiting the State of California’s Department of Industrial Relations website. 

California overtime law requirements 

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Who Is Not Eligible For California Overtime?

Knowing who and who is not eligible for the California overtime law can be confusing. Most employees in the state of California are eligible to receive overtime pay and do not have to be residents of the state in order to qualify. However, there are certain types of employees who are not entitled to overtime pay. 

Employees who do not have a right to overtime pay include:

  • Workers who hold a specific occupation with overtime rules. 
  • Employees who are labeled and classified as outside salespeople. 
  • Some unionized workers involved in a collective bargaining agreement. 
  • Employees who are classified as exempt employees whose primary duties include executive, administrative, or professional roles. 

Executive Exemption

An employee with executive exemption is an employee with executive capacity including:

  1. Duties and responsibilities involving the management of the organization or customarily recognized department or subdivisions in which the employee is employed through. 
  2. Those who regularly direct the work of two or more employees.    
  3. A person of authority who has the ability to hire or fire other employees. 
  4. Those who customarily and regularly use discretion and independent judgment. 
  5. Those who are primarily engaged in duties that qualify as exempt. 
  6. An individual whose monthly earnings are not two times higher than the state minimum wage for full-time employment. 

Administrative Exemption

An employee with an administrative exemption works in an administrative capacity, including: 

  1. Earning more than twice the state’s minimum wage. 
  2. Performs office or non-manual work. 
  3. Someone who assists a proprietor or an employee who is employed in an executive or administrative capacity. 
  4. One who is under only general supervision or works along specialized or technical lines requiring training, experience, or knowledge. 

Professional Exemption

A professional employee is a person employed in a professional capacity, including:  

  1. Someone whose job is in law, medicine, dentistry, optometry, architecture, engineering, teaching, accounting, art, and science that does not involve manual labor. 
  2. Earns more than two times the state minimum wage for full-time employment. 

For additional information on California’s overtime exemption rule, please visit the State of California Department of Industrial Regulations

How Are Employees’ Wages Determined?

Overtime wages are determined by the employee’s hourly rate. We have broken down how California’s overtime pay is calculated based on an employee's hours worked. An employee’s overtime wage is determined by the amount of hours he or she performed in a workday and workweek. 

  • Over eight hours in a workday and 40 hours in a workweek = 1.5 x hourly rate. 
  • The first eight hours on the seventh consecutive day of work = 1.5 x hourly rate.
  • Hourly rate for work over 12 hours in a workday = 2 x hourly rate.
  • The rate for working beyond eight hours on the seventh consecutive day of work = 2 x hourly rate.

1.5 x hourly rate is also known as time and a half. Two times the hourly rate is known as double-time. 

How Time and a Half Pay Is Calculated

Time and a half pay is calculated by taking the employee’s regular hourly wage and adding 50% (half) to it. For example, if an employee makes $20 per hour for regular pay, then their time and a half hourly pay would become $30 per hour. 

  • Regular pay = $20 per hour.
  • $20 divided by 2 = $10.
  • $20 (regular) + $10 (half) = $30 per hour for time-and-a-half overtime pay.

If the qualified employee is salaried, then you would calculate the hourly rate by dividing the employee's annual salary by 52 (number of weeks in a year) and then divide by 40 for the number of hours in a workweek. For example, if an employee earns $60,000 annually, you would divide 60,000 by 52 which equals $1,154 (rounded to the nearest dollar). Next, divide $1,154 by 40, and the regular hourly rate for this employee would be approximately $28.85/hour. 

  • Annual salary of $60,000 divided by 52 = $1,154 (rounded to nearest dollar).
  • $1,154 divided by 40 = $28.85 regular hourly rate. 
  • $28.85 divided by 2 = $14.43.
  • $28.85 (regular) + $14.43 (half) = $43.28/hour for time and a half overtime pay. 

How Double Time Pay Is Calculated

When an employee is earning double time instead of time and a half, his or her regular hourly wage is doubled. If the employee is making $20 per hour, then the double-time hourly rate would now become $40 per hour. 

  • Regular hourly wage = $20
  • $20 multiplied by 2 = $40/hour of double time overtime pay. 

What Defines a Workday?

According to the Department of Industrial Relations, a workday is defined as a consecutive 24-hour period that begins at the same time each calendar day, but it may begin any time of day. The beginning of an employee’s workday need not coincide with the beginning of that employee’s shift, and an employer may establish different workdays for different shifts.  

The Department of Industrial Relations also explains that once a workday is established it may be changed only if the change is intended to be permanent and the change is not designed to evade overtime obligations. Daily overtime is due based on the hours worked in any given workday, and the averaging of hours over two or more workdays is not allowed. 

Source: State of California Department of Industrial Relations

Defining a Workweek

A workweek is 168 hours over seven consecutive 24-hour periods. A workweek is fixed, starting with the same calendar day each week, beginning at any hour on any day, and recurring. An employee’s workweek may change only if the change is intended to be permanent and is not designed to evade the employer’s overtime obligation.  

Source: OnTheClock and State of California Department of Industrial Relations

Tracking Hours and Paying Overtime in California 

California law requires employees to track their hours worked. This includes the beginning and end of an employee’s shift. Start and stop times for meal breaks must also be tracked and documented. Employers will use the time data to calculate hours worked for the workday and workweek. 

Since employers have to determine hours that are worked in a workday and workweek, employees’ pay must accurately be accounted for. The employer has to itemize overtime hours worked in a workday and workweek. This valuable data will ensure employees are being paid for the time they worked, and it also keeps the employer in good legal standing. 

Overtime is not owed to employees who have taken a day off during the workweek. Some employees may use a sick or vacation day at times, but these hours are not counted toward overtime. For example, if an employee has worked 40 hours and decided to use eight hours of paid time off for the next day, he or she would not be compensated overtime pay for the eight additional hours over 40 for the workweek. 

Tracking daily and weekly hours worked can be time-consuming and complex. This is why thousands of California companies choose to use an employee time clock system. OnTheClock offers a robust time clock for businesses to track employees’ hours worked while providing a detailed breakdown of overtime hours per workday and workweek. This time data reflects automatically on each employee’s timecard. 

It is imperative that employers keep up with employee time tracking. Some employees may be entitled to time and a half of overtime pay for a workday, others may be entitled to double time, and some simply may not receive any overtime hours. According to SHRM, California law requires overtime wages be paid no later than the regularly scheduled payday of the payroll period following that in which overtime was earned. However, any straight-time hours worked must be paid on the regular payday of the payroll period in which they were earned.  

California Overtime Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What if an employer doesn't pay me my overtime wages?

A: You can file a wage claim with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement or file a lawsuit against the employer. Additionally, if an employee no longer works for an employer, they can claim for the waiting time penalty pursuant to Labor Code Section 203.

Q: Can an employee waive his or her right to receive overtime pay?

A: The answer is simply no. The state of California requires employers to pay all eligible employees overtime compensation.

Q: When must employees be paid for their overtime hours?

A: Wages due to overtime must be paid no later than the payday on the next regular pay period after the overtime was worked. 

Q: Can employers require employees to work overtime?

A: Yes. Since an employer may determine an employee’s schedule, it has the right to discipline employees who do not abide by the scheduling rules, including overtime hours. It is important to note that employees cannot be disciplined for refusing to work on the seventh day in a workweek.

Q: Are salaried employees entitled to overtime pay?

A: Salaried employees are entitled to overtime compensation unless they are considered exempt by state and federal law.

Q: Do employers have to pay employees for unauthorized overtime hours?

A: Authorized or not, employers must pay employees for all overtime hours that are worked. 

OnTheClock helps California business owners comply with overtime laws.

OnTheClock has helped over 30,000 companies track over 500 million hours worked.

OnTheClock Employee Time Tracking

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OnTheClock Team

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a thought From rod on 12/8/2021 ...
hello, work week is MON to SUN, i worked Mon to WED (8hrs each day) then 9 hours on THUR but called in sick FRI. On that week, i got paid 41 hrs straight time, no OT. is OT owed on the 1 hr extra worked on THUR?
reply from OTC - Hello and thank you for the question. According to California law, time over 8 hours in a single workday should be paid OT, and up to 12 hours per workday is double time. This applies to qualifying employees who meet the law's criteria. We recommend reaching out to your payroll provider and HR department for additional clarification.
a thought From Adriana on 1/9/2021 ...
Hello! My employer has told me that ca law states that the 24 hour work period is from 12am-12am. My shift is from 10pm-6am, but I very often come in at 6pm, or 8pm-6am. But because the clock resets at 12am, I never Receive overtime for the extra hours. Is this correct?
reply from OTC - Hi Adriana, thank you for reaching out. The California overtime law can be quite complex and difficult to understand. This is what we know: employers have the right to establish what constitutes a workweek and workday for calculating weekly and daily overtime hours. With that being said, a workday is defined by California law as being any consecutive 24-hour period beginning at the same time of a calendar day. We hope this information is valuable to you for tracking overtime hours in California.
a thought From mike on 9/10/2020 ...
Does a small business have to pay overtime in California for any hours worked over 8 in a single day?
reply from OTC - Hello Mike, thank you for the great question. If you are not exempt from the California overtime law then you are entitled to time and a half of pay when you work more than 8 hours in a workday and double time if you work 12 or more hours in a workday. It is the law for businesses to pay eligible employees their overtime.
a thought From Nina Henry on 8/14/2020 ...
my employer work week starts on Saturday and ends in Friday. Or I should say Friday to Friday. My schedule starting Monday - Sunday I work 64 hours. Then the next week I work 16 hours. I don’t get any overtime due to the “work week. Is it legal for my employer to work me 6 days in 1 week then 2 days the next week? 12 hour shifts. 64 hour week is brutal and not healthy. Not sure why they can’t have a better way of scheduling employees.
reply from OTC - Hi Nina, this depends on your specific state's law. The content provided in this article is for the state of California. Please reference our What is a Workweek and How Does The DOL Describe It. We also recommend using our time clock app to track your hours worked in the workweek to ensure you are being paid accordingly. Have a great day.
a thought From Hong Yang on 8/10/2020 ...
Our workday starts 0500 am and we week odd and long hours. Sometimes over 26 to 30 hours straight. The employer says at 0500 am the clock reset so the employer does not pay double overtime after 0500 am. It goes to regular pay. Is this right? An employee can work a 18 hour shift that start at 9pm and reset at 5am with no overtime. Then clock out at 2pm with no overtime pay.
reply from OTC - Hello and thank you for the great question. Please read our blog How to Set Up Pay Periods to Work With Pay Dates. This may be able to provide you with the information you are looking for. Have a great day.
a thought From Larry Kam on 4/1/2020 ...
Our workweek begins on Sunday and runs through Saturday. If an employee starts on Monday and works straight through to the following Tuesday, is Sunday the 7th consecutive that requires double time pay even though it is the start of a new work week?
reply from OTC - Hi Larry. Since your workweek starts on Sunday, the 7th day would be Saturday. Double time for the seventh consecutive in the state of California must occur in an actual workweek. We hope this helps.
a thought From John E. on 3/10/2020 ...
Are work week starts on Saturday ends on Friday and we work 5 days a week 8 hours a day. If I work 10hrs on Monday I should receive 2 hours of pay at 1.5x. Then I work Tuesday thru Friday working 8 hours a day. On Friday I now have a total of 42 hours. Do I now get paid 1.5x on Friday for the 2 hours over 40 hours for the week?
reply from OTC - Hello John, great question. It is our understanding that you will receive time and a half for the additional two hours on Monday and not an additional two hours of time in a half because you went over 40 since you are already being compensated for these hours.

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