What are the rules for overtime in California?

California has strict overtime laws that generally cover most hourly workers, with exceptions for a number of specific occupations. Here is a quick outline of the basic provisions: Workers must receive extra pay for all hours worked in excess of eight in a single day. Employees working between eight and 12 hours in a day […]

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California has strict overtime laws that generally cover most hourly workers, with exceptions for a number of specific occupations.

Here is a quick outline of the basic provisions:

  • Workers must receive extra pay for all hours worked in excess of eight in a single day. Employees working between eight and 12 hours in a day should receive one and one-half times their normal rate for the extra hours, while those working more than 12 hours in a day should receive double pay for time worked in excess of 12 hours.
  • Overtime laws also consider work on a weekly basis: Any hours worked in excess of 40 in a single week must be paid at least at one and one-halftimes the worker’s normal rate.
  • Finally, overtime takes into account the importance of a rest day within the week: Workers must receive one and one-half times their regular pay for the first eight hours they work on the seventh consecutive work day, and they must receive double pay for every hour in excess of eight worked on the seventh consecutive day.

Computing the Regular Rate of Pay

The specific circumstances of each job may alter the employee’s legal right to overtime, so you must take specific circumstances into account when meeting workers’ legal rights for overtime pay. California law has formulas for computing regular rate of pay for salaried workers, as well as for those paid on commission, or by the piece. Non-discretionary bonuses (bonuses based on hours worked, production, or proficiency) are also usually included in determining the regular rate of pay.

How Authorization is Handled

If your employee works overtime without your authorization, they must still be paid overtime according to the above formulas. Employers may discipline an employee who works overtime hours in violation of the employer’s policy of working overtime without the required authorization.

Exemptions from Overtime Laws

A wide variety of specialized workers are exempt from certain parts of the overtime laws. A complete list of exemptions can be found on the California Department of Industrial Relations website, but some categories include:

  • Executive, administrative and professional positions
  • State, city and county employees
  • Outside salespeople
  • Certain types of drivers
  • AmeriCorps workers
  • Family members of the employer
  • Certain commissioned workers

You’ll find many more exemptions listed on the website, and some are only exempt from certain parts of the overtime laws.

Exceptions to the Overtime Laws

Exceptions are different from exemptions, because they refer to certain schedules and establishments rather than individual positions. The Industrial Relations website lists a number of highly specific exceptions.

The main categories of exceptions include

  • people working under a Collective Bargaining Agreement,
  • people working under alternative workweek schedules (such as four 10-hour days), and
  • residential caregivers.

In many cases, these exceptions still allow for overtime pay in certain circumstances.

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