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What are the rules governing overtime wages in California?

Federal Law requires employers to pay overtime wages to any eligible worker who works more than 40 hours in a workweek (168 consecutive hours). Overtime pay is paid at a rate no less than one and one-half times the regular pay rate (time and a half). California overtime rules build on federal laws, but there are significant differences.

California's 8-hour Workday

One important difference between California overtime law and federal overtime law is California’s 8-hour workday. In California, non-exempt employees are entitled to overtime pay when they work more than eight hours in a single day. The worker must be paid time and a half for the extra work.

There is an exception:  California employers may offer an alternative workweek. For example, a dental office may ask its hygienists to work four 10-hour days instead of five 8-hour days in order to offer evening appointments. Employees must be given a chance to vote on the alternative schedule. The schedule must be approved by two-thirds of the employees in the affected work unit. In this case, the employees could work up to ten hours without receiving overtime.

California's 12-hour Double-Time

Eligible employees who work more than 12 hours in a single day, are entitled to receive twice their regular rate of pay for those work hours.

California's 40-hour Work Week

Both federal and state laws require payment of overtime wages to employees who work more than 40 hours in a 7-day work week. This rule applies to any period of 168 consecutive hours.

California's 7th Consecutive Day Rule

A California employee who works for seven consecutive days in a single workweek, is entitled to time-and-a-half overtime for the first eight hours worked on the seventh workday.

Are You Covered by California’s Overtime Laws?

There are exemptions to California’s overtime law. Workers who receive a salary that is at least twice minimum wage ($10.50 per hour) are exempt from overtime. The worker must also qualify as an exempt professional, exempt executive, or exempt administrator. Firefighters, police officers, government employees, and certain computer professionals are also overtime exempt.

If an employee is misclassified as overtime exempt, his employer must pay the employee any unpaid overtime as well as penalties, interest and attorney’s fees.

If you believe that you are owed overtime, contact a skilled California wage and hour attorney. The attorney will be able to tell you if your employer owes you money.

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