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How does overtime work in California?

Employment laws in California mandate overtime pay in certain situations. Employers who fail to pay properly can face stiff penalties.

California has some of the most employee-friendly laws in the nation. Legislators have worked diligently to ensure employers cannot take advantage of workers and to give staff members rights to protect themselves against bad employment situations. One such right is to overtime pay.

Overtime history

Originally in the state, the first overtime law in 1911 followed a rule of paying when a person worked over eight hours in one day, according to AIA California. Then in the 1990s, lawmakers changed it to a weekly threshold. People working over 40 hours in one week could get overtime.

Once again, the California legislators decided to make a change in the early 2000s to the employment law revert back to the eight-hour day plan.

Pay rates

The California Department of Industrial Relations states the pay rates for overtime are one and one-half times the regular pay rate for hours worked over eight in one day. This applies for up to 12 hours total in one day. After 12 hours, the person would get double their pay rate per hour.

In addition, the pay rate for time worked when the person works seven days in one week differs on the seventh day. For the first eight hours of that day, the person gets time and one-half, and for any hours over eight, he or she receives double-time pay.

An employer should figure the regular rate of pay based on past compensation. This may require computing an hourly rate for salaried employees and includes any typical additional pay a person receives, such as extra pay for working a specific shift.

To figure the hours, the employer would need to determine all hours worked. If a person works a total of 53 hours in one week, then the employer will pay out 13 hours of overtime according to the law for the proper rate of pay.

Applicable situations

The overtime laws only apply to people over the age of 18 or workers who are 16 or 17 years old and not attending school. Generally, the labor laws for minors would prohibit them from working any overtime hours. Some employee classifications are exempt from the rules, such as agriculture workers.

Employers must pay workers for all overtime hours even if they were not scheduled to work them. Unless an employer has an exemption, it must follow the law. Workers who feel they are not receiving proper pay may want to contact an employment law attorney, such as The Law Offices of Daniel Feder.