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What You Should Know About California’s Overtime Laws

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California provides extensive protections for employees throughout the state. This state has always been a leader when it comes to protecting the rights of workers. This includes protections designed to ensure that all workers are paid appropriately, including minimum wage protections, coverage of owed commissions, and overtime pay. It is critical for every worker in this state to know what California law says about overtime pay. There are strict requirements related to how employers handle compensating employees who work a certain amount of hours.

California laws pertaining to overtime are stringent

As we mentioned, California has significant overtime protections in place for workers. In this state, all employers are required to pay overtime (with very few exceptions). The overtime rate in California is one and one-half times the employee’s regular rate of pay, and this rate must be paid for all hours in excess of eight and up to 12 hours in a single workday. This is also the pay rate for the first eight hours of work on the seventh consecutive day of work in a workweek.

Employers in California are required to pay double the employee’s regular rate for any hours worked in excess of 12 in a single workday and for all hours worked in excess of eights on the seventh consecutive day of work in a workweek.

Employers are allowed to discipline an employee if they violate an employer’s policy of working overtime without prior authorization. However, the employer still has to pay the employee for the overtime work, even if it was not authorized.

Do break and mealtimes count towards overtime hours?

Whether or not break and mealtimes count towards overtime will vary from case to case. An employer is required to pay an employee for all hours worked, but they can also designate meal and break times as periods with no work duties. If an employee is relieved of all duties during a meal or break, then this time will not count towards overtime hours.

What if you do not receive overtime?

Unpaid overtime claims are the largest category of complaints filed with state regulators under wage and hour law violations. California leads the nation in unpaid overtime settlements between employees and employers.

Employees who have been underpaid by their employer have three options moving forward. They can:

  • Attempt to resolve the dispute informally with their employer.
  • File a lawsuit against their employer in court.
  • File an unpaid wage claim with a state government agency.

It is strongly recommended that employees who are seeking unpaid overtime pay to work with a skilled Orange County workers’ compensation lawyer a who is familiar with the state’s overtime laws. The wronged employee will need to decide whether to seek relief under state or federal law.

  • Federal law allows the amount of unpaid wages to be doubled as a “penalty” for the employer’s failure to pay.
  • California law does not allow the damages to be doubled, but it does include the possibility of a late payment penalty in some circumstances.

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