Overtime pay in California is often misunderstood, surrounded by misconceptions and confusing laws. Whether you’re an hourly or salaried employee, it’s easy to find yourself puzzled over how these rules apply. Whether you’re paid hourly or on a salary, knowing the ins and outs of these regulations is crucial for ensuring you receive the compensation you deserve. Here we’ll look at some common myths surrounding overtime pay.

Misconception: “Overtime Only Applies to Hourly Employees”

Many believe overtime pay is exclusive to hourly employees, but that’s inaccurate. In reality, salaried employees may also be eligible for overtime. The key lies in understanding the exemption criteria set by California law. Not all salaried positions are exempt from overtime; it depends on factors like the nature of the job, level of responsibility, and salary threshold. For instance, a salaried employee earning below a certain amount may still qualify for overtime. So, don’t overlook your potential overtime rights just because you receive a salary.

Misconception: “All Employees are Entitled to Overtime”

It’s a common misconception that all employees in California are automatically entitled to overtime pay, but this isn’t the case. There are specific exemptions based on job type and duties. For example, certain managerial, administrative, and professional roles may not qualify for overtime under California law. These exemptions are based on detailed criteria that include job responsibilities and sometimes compensation levels. Understanding your job classification is crucial to determine if these exemptions apply to you. So, while many employees are eligible for overtime, it’s not a one-size-fits-all rule.

Misconception: “Overtime is Calculated Weekly”

Contrary to popular belief, overtime in California isn’t always calculated on a weekly basis. While federal law typically considers overtime for hours worked beyond 40 in a week, California takes it a step further. In this state, employees are also entitled to daily overtime pay for any hours worked over 8 in a single day. This means you could earn overtime pay even if you work less than 40 hours a week. Additionally, working more than 12 hours in one day warrants double the regular pay rate. This unique approach ensures more comprehensive compensation for extra hours worked daily.

Misconception: “Employers Decide Overtime Policies”

Some might think that overtime policies are solely at their employer’s discretion, but this is a misconception. In California, state laws strictly dictate the rules for overtime pay, and these regulations override any company-specific policies. Employers must comply with legal standards, such as paying overtime for hours worked beyond the daily or weekly thresholds. While companies can certainly have their own policies, these cannot infringe upon the legal rights of employees to fair overtime compensation. Understanding this can empower employees to assert their rights if a company’s policy seems to contradict state law.

Misconception: “Overtime Pay Isn’t Much More Than Regular Pay”

The idea that overtime pay isn’t significantly higher than regular pay is a widespread misconception. In California, the law mandates that employees receive one and a half times their regular rate for overtime hours. This applies to hours worked beyond 8 in a day or 40 in a week and for the first 8 hours worked on the seventh consecutive day in a workweek. Additionally, hours exceeding 12 in a day and hours worked beyond 8 on the seventh consecutive day are paid at double the regular rate. This elevated pay rate can make a notable difference in an employee’s earnings.

What to Do If You Suspect Your Overtime Rights are Being Violated

Taking informed action is essential if you suspect your overtime rights are being violated. First, review your work hours, pay stubs, and any relevant employment policies to confirm any discrepancies. If the issue isn’t resolved through internal discussions with your employer, consider keeping detailed records of your work hours and pay received. These records can be vital evidence. Next, seeking legal advice is a prudent step. An attorney experienced in employment law can offer guidance tailored to your situation, helping to ensure your rights are protected, and any owed compensation is recovered. Taking action can not only help you, it can also prevent similar violations for others.

Contact the Lore Law Firm for Questions About Overtime Pay in California

Our dedicated team at the Lore Law Firm can assist you with any overtime pay concerns. We’ll evaluate your case and work tirelessly to uphold your rights. Don’t hesitate to contact us through our free and confidential online client intake form for personalized, effective legal support. Let’s work together to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.

Michael Lore is the founder of The Lore Law Firm. For over 25 years, his law practice and experience extend from representing individuals in all aspects of labor & employment law, with a concentration in class and collective actions seeking to recover unpaid back overtime wages, to matters involving executive severance negotiations, non-compete provisions and serious personal injury (work and non-work related). He has handled matters both in the state and federal courts nationwide as well as via related administrative agencies. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Michael by using our chat functionality.