Payment of Overtime Compensation
California labor law requires that overtime be paid at the following rates:
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One and one-half (1½) times an employee’s regular rate of pay for hours worked over (8) in a workday or over forty (40) hours in a work week.
Two (2) times an employee’s regular rate of pay for hours worked over twelve (12) hours in a workday, or for hours worked over eight (8) hours on the 7th day of the workweek. If an employee works seven consecutive days, he or she must be paid one and one-half (1½) times his or her rate of pay for the first eight (8) hours worked on the 7th consecutive workday, and double time for any hours worked over eight (8) on the 7th workday.
Whether you are eligible for overtime wages depends on whether you are considered exempt or non-exempt. Determining an employer’s overtime liability is often a difficult task in the area of wage and hour law. One reason for an employer’s failure to pay overtime wages may be the employer’s misclassification of jobs as exempt from California’s wage and hour laws. This may be the result of an employer’s wrongful application of the complex tests prescribed under applicable laws or regulations.
A glorified job title alone does not determine an employee’s exempt or non-exempt status. An employee with a fancy job title may not qualify as an exempt employee if his or her actual duties do not meet the requirements for one of the exemptions. The employee must be primarily engaged in exempt duties and receive a minimum salary that equals or exceeds a specified sum. Each of California’s Wage Orders contains exemptions for executive, administrative, and professional employees.
For an employee to qualify as exempt under the “executive exemption,” the employer must prove all of the following about the employee:
- The employee’s duties and responsibilities involve the management of the enterprise in which he or she is employed or of a customarily recognized department or subdivision of the enterprise
- The employee directs the work of two or more other employees
- The employee has the authority to hire or fire other employees or whose suggestions and recommendations as firing, advancement or promotion of other employees is given particular weight by the employer
- The employee customarily and regularly exercises discretion and independent judgment
- The employee is a full-time employee and is paid a salary. The monthly salary must be twice California’s minimum wage for full-time employment.
A person employed in an administrative capacity generally means any employee who spends the majority of his or her work time:
- Doing office or non-manual work directly related to management policies or general business operations of the employer or the employer’s customers and
- Exercising discretion and independent judgment.
This exemption category applies to employees who are primarily engaged in the practice of one of the following recognized professions: law, medicine, dentistry, optometry, architecture, engineering, teaching, or accounting. This exemption category may also include creative processionals engaged in a “learned or artistic profession” such as music, writing, or theater.
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How you classify an employee – whether exempt, non-exempt, or independent contractor – affects what rights and benefits that employee is entitled to under the law. Employee misclassification is a serious problem. Whether you intentionally or unintentionally misclassify an employee, that employee may be entitled to back wages and other benefits under the law.
If you work in California and you feel that you are owed overtime compensation, you may qualify for damages or remedies that may be awarded in a possible unpaid overtime class action or lawsuit.
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