California Labor Overtime Laws Protect Employees

California labor and overtime laws are among the most stringent in the nation in an effort to protect vulnerable minimum wage and low wage-earning employees. Many of the California labor overtime rules and regulations were enacted to protect the workers who don’t feel that they can tell their employer “no” to working overtime without risk to their jobs.

The definitions of employees as exempt and non-exempt are definite and precise. Non-exempt employees are those whom California labor overtime laws and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) protect who are entitled to overtime pay. These are usually minimum or lower-wage earners who are paid hourly.

  • Employees who work more than 8 hours in a workday must be paid 1.5 times their usual hourly wages for each overtime hour worked. If they work more than 12 hours in a workday, they must be paid twice their usual rate.
  • If an employee works 7 consecutive days, they must be paid time and a half for the first 8 hours, and two times their normal rate for each hour worked over 8. This 7th consecutive day worked applies no matter how many hours the employee worked in the first 6 days.
  • Any non-exempt employee who works more than 40 hours per workweek must be paid 1.5 times their standard hourly pay.
  • If an employee who misses work time for a personal reason wishes to make up the time during the week, he may do so with the employer’s permission. So long as she does not work more than 11 hours on the make-up day, the employer is not obligated to pay overtime. Employers are not required by law to grant an employee’s request to make up such time.
  • According to California labor law regulations, if an employee works more than 5 hours, an unpaid, “off the clock” 30 minute meal period is mandated by law. If however, the employee works less than 6 hours and both the employer and employee agree, the meal time may legally be waived.
  • If an employee works more than 10 hours, a second 30 minute meal period is required, and again if an employee works less than 12 hours, the second meal time may be waived if both are in agreement in California.
  • In California employees are given a 10 minute rest break in the middle of the work period  for every 4 hours worked if they work more than 3.5 hours. Under the California Breaks Provision rest breaks are considered work and are paid or “on the clock.”

Employees must be paid for all of their work time that is spent engaged in work that benefits the employer at work, at home, before, or after work hours. This includes any work that is integral to the employee’s principal work. For example, cleaning a tanning bed in a tanning salon is considered an integral part of the job. Even unauthorized work by an employee must be compensated. Some of the most common violations of California labor overtime laws occur when supervisors encourage or require employees to work before clocking in or after clocking out.

Employees who believe that they have not been paid overtime unlawfully are well-advised to contact an experienced California overtime lawyer who can best evaluate their situation to determine if they might have a valid claim under the California labor and overtime laws.

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