Generally speaking, employees in California are entitled to receive overtime compensation when they work more than eight hours a day or more than 40 hours a week. Whether you are entitled to overtime also depends on whether you are an exempt or a non-exempt employee, which can be complicated to determine. Please contact Hunter Pyle Law if you think you have been denied your overtime pay in California.
California and Federal Overtime Law
California overtime law provides greater protections to employees than federal law. Federal law only requires employers to pay non-exempt employees overtime for any time that is worked past 40 hours in a week, 29 U.S. Code § 207. When non-exempt California employees work more than eight hours in any given day (or 40 hours in a week), they are entitled to overtime compensation, Labor Code § 510. Both California and federal law require overtime to be paid at a rate of one-and-a-half times the employee’s regular rate of pay. However, if a California employee works more than 12 hours in a day or more than eight hours on the seventh consecutive workday, he or she is entitled to double-time compensation, which is two times the employee’s regular rate. Federal law does not provide for double-time pay no matter how many hours an employee works.
What is a Regular Rate of Pay?
Overtime pay (whether it is time and a half or double-time) is based on an employee’s “regular rate” of pay. To find out if you are being properly compensated for your overtime hours, you first need to know what your regular rate is.
Generally, the regular rate is the compensation you normally earn for the work you perform. It includes a number of different kinds of pay, such as hourly earnings, salary, piecework earnings, and commissions.
For example, if you are paid on an hourly basis, that amount is your regular rate of pay. But if you are paid a salary (and you are not exempt), the regular rate is determined as follows:
- Multiply your monthly pay by 12 (months) to get your annual salary.
- Divide the annual salary by 52 (weeks) to get your weekly salary.
- Divide the weekly salary by 40 (hours) to get your regular hourly rate.
To get your regular rate, if you are paid by the piece or commission, divide your total earnings for the workweek, including earnings during overtime hours, by the total hours worked during the workweek, including the overtime hours. For example if you earned $500 in a workweek, and you worked 45 hours, your regular rate is $11.11 per hour.
If you receive nondiscretionary bonuses (that is, bonuses that will automatically be paid if certain conditions are met), the amount of the bonus must be included in your regular rate before overtime is calculated. For example, if an employee earns $500 in a workweek, and receives a $50 bonus for meeting productivity goals, and he or she worked 45 hours, the regular rate for overtime purposes would be $12.12.
Exemptions from Overtime
There are many exemptions to federal and California overtime laws. The most common are the professional, administrative, and executive exemptions.
The professional exemption generally applies to employees who are licensed or certified by the state and are primarily engaged in the practice of one of the following recognized professions: law, medicine, dentistry, optometry, architecture, engineering, teaching, or accounting.
The administrative exemption generally applies to employees whose duties involve the performance of office or non-manual work directly related to management policies or general business operations of their employer or their employer’s customers.
The executive exemption applies to employees whose duties and responsibilities involve the management of the enterprise in which they are employed or of a “customarily recognized department or subdivision thereof;” who customarily and regularly directs the work of two or more other employees; and who has the authority to hire or fire other employees or “whose suggestions and recommendations as to the hiring or firing and as to the advancement and promotion or any other change of status of other employees will be given particular weight.”
Additionally, in order to qualify for one of these exemptions, an employee must be paid on a salary basis (as opposed to by the hour) and earn a certain amount of money per year.
Determining whether a particular employee, or group of employees, is properly considered exempt from overtime laws in California or federally is complicated. You should contact an attorney immediately if you think your employer has misclassified you as exempt from overtime.
If you are owed overtime pay in California, Hunter Pyle Law can help you recover your lost wages. Please contact us for a free and confidential consultation.