California Overtime Law – Calculating California Overtime

California overtime laws are some of the most favorable to employees.  California employers are required to pay workers time and a half after 8 hours per day or 40 hours per week (and for the first 8 hours on the 7th consecutive day worked in a workweek).  Federal law only requires overtime pay if the employee works more than 40 hours per week.   In addition, California overtime law requires double pay after 12 hours per workday or 8 hours on the 7th consecutive day worked in a workweek.

In summary, California overtime law requires:

  • Any hours worked over 8 per workday at 1 ½ times regular pay rate
  • Any hours worked over 40 per workweek at 1 ½ times regular pay rate
  • First 8 hours on the 7th consecutive day worked in a workweek at 1 ½ times regular pay rate
  • Any work in excess of 12 hours per workday at 2 times regular rate
  • Any work in excess of 8 hours on the 7th consecutive day worked in a workweek at 2 times regular rate

In order to calculate how much California overtime pay you are due, you must know when your employer’s workday and workweek starts.  California overtime law defines a workday as a consecutive 24-hour period beginning at the same time each calendar day.  The workday is established by your employer and can only be changed if change is intended to be permanent.  The workday does not necessarily start at the time you usually start work.

Once you know when your employer’s workday starts, you can determine your daily overtime pay based on the California overtime law.  For example, your employer’s workday may start at 12:00 am on Monday and would run through 11:59p Monday night.  If you start work on Monday at 6:00p and work until 3:00am on Tuesday, you will have worked 6 hours during the workday on Monday and 3 hours during the workday on Tuesday.  Since your work spanned two workdays and you did not work more than 8 hours in one workday, under California overtime law, you are not entitled to overtime pay even though you worked a total of 9 hours straight.

California overtime law defines a workweek as a consecutive 7-day period.  It is also established by your employer and, again, does not necessarily coincide with the day that you typically start work each week.  Using the previous example, let’s assume your employer’s workweek starts on Monday at 12:00 am.  It would then run through Sunday night at 11:59 pm.  If you typically work 6 hours a day from Thursday through Wednesday, you would accrue 24 hours of work during the first workweek – 6 hours x 4 days, Thursday through Sunday – and 18 hours during the second workweek – 6 hours x 3 days, Monday through Wednesday.  So, even though you worked 42 hours total during a 7-day period, you did not accrue any overtime under California overtime law because you did not work more than 40 hours during one workweek (and you did not work more than 8 hours in any workday).  This would also be true under federal law.

California overtime law also allows employers to institute an alternative workweek schedule.  Under this type of schedule, employees may work up to ten (10) hours per day within a 40 hour workweek without the payment of an overtime rate of compensation.  The employer can propose this arrangement and it must be approved by 2/3 of the employees in the designated work unit in a secret ballot election.   If this alternative workweek schedule is approved, under California overtime law, overtime pay is due after 10 hours of work per workday or 40 hours of work per workweek.

If you believe you are not being paid properly under California overtime law, we would be happy to evaluate your situation.  You can call us at 713-782-LAW1 (5291) or 1-866-559-0400 or submit your information using our convenient Case Evaluation Form.

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