waiter at restaurant

Overtime regulations for restaurant workers often differ across states, presenting unique challenges for both employees and employers in the industry. Understanding these state-specific rules is crucial to ensure compliance and fair treatment in the workplace. Here we’ll explore some of the most distinctive overtime provisions for restaurant workers in various states.

Understanding Overtime Basics

Overtime pay, governed by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), is a key aspect of employment law, mandating that employees receive 1.5 times their regular pay rate for hours worked over 40 in a week. However, in the restaurant industry, where many workers are tipped employees, the application of these rules can be more complex. In addition, state-specific regulations may alter how overtime is calculated for these workers, potentially differing from the federal standards set by the FLSA. For instance, some states have specific rules for tipped employees, making overtime calculations trickier. It’s crucial for restaurant workers, especially those who receive tips, to be aware of both federal and state-specific overtime regulations to ensure their rights are fully protected.


In California, overtime provisions include distinct rules that go beyond the standard federal guidelines. Employees are entitled to overtime pay at 1.5 times their regular rate for any work over 8 hours in a single day, and double pay for over 12 hours. Additionally, working more than 40 hours in a week or 7 consecutive days also triggers overtime compensation. These specific regulations reflect California’s commitment to protecting workers in the fast-paced and often demanding restaurant industry.

In addition, tipped employees are paid the full state minimum wage before tips, and their overtime is calculated based on this full minimum wage rather than their tipped wage. This means their overtime pay is higher than it would be under federal guidelines, which allow for overtime calculation based on a lower base wage due to the tip credit.

New York

New York’s overtime provisions include unique aspects that extend beyond the typical weekly overtime standards. Employees earn overtime at 1.5 times their regular rate for hours worked beyond 40 in a week, and the regular rate of pay cannot be less than the minimum wage. Additionally, New York enforces the “spread of hours” rule, where workers are entitled to an extra hour of pay at the minimum wage rate if their workday spans more than 10 hours. This rule ensures extra compensation for long workdays, common in the restaurant industry.

New York also allows employers to satisfy the minimum wage by combining a “cash wage” paid by the employer with a credit for tips that the employee receives from customers. For tipped workers, employers must pay overtime hours worked at time-and-one-half the minimum wage rate, less the applicable tip credit.  


Oregon’s overtime provisions incorporate rules aimed at promoting work-life balance. In Oregon, employees are generally entitled to overtime pay at 1.5 times their regular rate for hours worked beyond 40 in a week. Oregon does not allow for a tip credit. Tipped employees must be paid the full state minimum wage before tips, and overtime is calculated based on this rate. In addition, unique to Oregon, there is a mandate for a minimum 10-hour rest period between shifts, specifically targeting industries like restaurants where split shifts are common. This ensures workers have adequate rest, addressing the physically demanding nature of restaurant work.


In Massachusetts, restaurant workers who receive tips are subject to specific overtime provisions. In general, tipped employees must be paid at least the state minimum wage for tipped workers, known as the service rate, which is lower than the regular minimum wage. The overtime pay for most workers is 1.5 times the regular rate for hours worked over 40 in a week. When calculating overtime pay for tipped workers, employers must base this rate on the full state minimum wage, not on the lower service rate. This ensures that tipped workers in Massachusetts receive fair compensation for overtime hours.

The Lore Law Firm Can Help You Navigate These Regulations

As employment law attorneys dedicated to representing workers, the Lore Law Firm has decades of experience helping restaurant employees understand and assert their rights under state-specific overtime regulations. If you’re facing uncertainties or challenges regarding overtime pay, we’re here to offer the legal support and guidance you need. We encourage you to reach out to us by completing our free and confidential online client intake form. We can address your individual situation and explore the most effective legal pathways to ensure your rights are fully protected in the workplace.

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.