Overtime is great when offered to employees: it fattens a check that is often too small for working families to achieve their day-to-day expenses in California. But even if you aren’t living paycheck to paycheck, overtime is still welcome. Employers, however, don’t always like to pay it even though by law, they are required to do so in most situations.
If you suspect you were not paid or not fully paid for overtime hours you worked, you may be entitled to file a claim or lawsuit against your employer. Here, we answer common questions about overtime that our clients have asked us, like:
- What are California's overtime laws?
- Are there any exceptions to California's overtime laws?
- Which workers in Los Angeles have a right to overtime pay?
- Can you get overtime for on-call work?
- What should workers do if their employer violated California's overtime laws?
- Who should you contact to file an overtime claim in Los Angeles?
To receive more specific legal answers to your specific overtime case, contact our office to schedule a free and confidential initial consultation. Our attorneys are very familiar with the law and know how to apply it to your benefit. At Sirmabekian Law Firm, we are committed to our clients and their right to overtime pay in Los Angeles.
Overtime pay is meant to compensate employees who work during their “free time.” It’s also a way to make sure employers don’t force employees to work long hours and not hire new employees who – even if paid the same – may still be owed benefits, which are costly.
The California Labor Code § 510 governs overtime. The statute establishes that eight hours of labor is a day’s work. It also states that:
Any additional work done exceeding eight or more hours in one workday, any additional work done exceeding 40 or more hours in one workweek, and on the seventh day of work, the first eight hours that an employee worked in any one workweek, the employee shall be entitled to be reimbursed by the employer at a rate of one and a half times the regular rate of his or her pay.
Any additional work done exceeding 12 or more hours in one workday, the employee shall be entitled to be reimbursed by the employer at a rate of twice the regular rate of his or her.
Any additional work done, on any seventh day exceeding eight or more hours of a workweek, the employee shall be entitled to be reimbursed by the employer at a rate of twice the regular rate of his or her pay.
As such, you are owed one and a half of your regular pay when you:
- work more than 8 hours a day; or
- work more than 40 hours in a workweek; or
- work on the 7th day of the workweek (up to 8 hours of work).
But you are owed double your regular pay for any:
- work after the first 12 hours of the workday; or
- work on the 7th day of the workweek and work more than 8 hours on that 7th day.
It’s important to note, too, that according to the same section of the Labor Code, the time you spend commuting to and from work – even if for overtime purposes – is not time that can be applied for overtime.
EXAMPLES OF CALIFORNIA’S OVERTIME LAWS IN PRACTICE
To understand what this means, here are a few examples.
Example 1: You work a regular eight-hour-a-day job five days a week. In one week, you work 9 hours on two of those five days. You are owed time and a half for 2 hours.
Example 2: You work a regular eight-hour-a-day job five days a week. In one week, you work 8 hours a day for 7 days. You are owed time and a half for 14 hours.
Example 3: You work a regular eight-hour-a-day job five days a week. In one week, you work 1 day for 13 hours and 8 hours for the remaining 4 days. You are owed time and a half for 4 hours and double pay for 1 hour.
Example 4: You work three 12-hours shifts in one workweek. In one week, you work one 14-hour day and two regular 12-hour day shifts. You are not owed overtime unless your employer has specified it.
You cannot opt out of overtime pay. Your employer cannot ask that you opt out of overtime pay. Further, even if you are not authorized to perform the overtime work, you are still owed for the overtime work you performed.
That said, according to California law, there are a few alternative workweek schedules not subject to the above overtime laws. These alternative workweek schedules are addressed below.
FOUR 10-HOUR DAYS
Four 10-hour days, where employees receive an extra day off each week is permissible under Calif. Labor Code § 511. This alternative workweek schedule has become more popular in recent years. According to the law, if you work more than your regularly scheduled hours for the day, you are owed one and one-half times the regular rate of pay except any hours worked over 12 hours, you are owed double your regular rate of pay.
For example, if you work four 10-hour days, and on one day of the week, you worked for 13 hours. You are owed one and one-half your regular pay rate for two hours and double your regular pay rate for one hour.
According to Calif. Labor Code § 514, employers are exempt from paying “daily overtime” to employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement where they receive a minimum of 30% more than the state minimum wage and premium pay for “overtime.”
So, for example, a common work schedule established by collective bargaining is one where employees work four 9-hour days and one 8-hour day (usually Friday) and then have every other Friday off. Employees will not be paid for the extra collectively bargained hours (typically four hours) they work every other week.
As another example, a common work schedule for nurses is a three 12-hour day schedule. The nurse (or another employee with this alternative work schedule) who works more than 12 hours in one day is owed double time for those excess hours. This is true even when the hours for that workweek may still not add up to 40 hours.
Most employees who are 18 years or older or 16 and 17 years and have legal authorization to leave school to work have the right to overtime pay in California, including some salaried employees. So, to answer this question more accurately, it is best to consider who is not eligible for overtime pay in Los Angeles.
The following employees do not have a right to overtime pay at an increased rate:
- exempt employees whose duties include executive, administrative, and professional capacities – these employees have a fixed salary equal to at least twice the minimum wage and include occupations like:
- Chief Executive Officers
- Chief Financial Officers
- Senior Administrators
- unionized employees, like professional actors or taxi cab drivers, subject to collective bargaining agreements that provide regular hourly pay rates of at least 30% more than the state minimum wage and a premium wage rate for all overtime hours;
- outside salespersons who are 18 years old or older, spend more than half their working hours away from their employer’s office, and sell services, goods, contracts, or the use of facilities; and
- workers in specific occupations governed by California’s wage orders that apply special overtime rules – these occupations include:
- the public housing industry, like live-in household employees, personal attendants, camp counselors, managers of homes for the aged; 24-hour residential childcare providers; ambulance drivers and attendants;
- agricultural workers, including seasonal workers;
- an employer’s parent, spouse, child, or legally adopted child (e.g., kids working for their parents).
In Los Angeles (as well as throughout California), people who have on-call duties may be entitled to overtime. When can engage in personal activities while on-call, you will not usually be able to get overtime? When, however, you cannot engage in personal activities and must be able to get to work on short notice, then your on-call hours may be subject to overtime.
Factors to consider when determining if your on-call work is overtime work, consider:
- whether or not the employer requires you to live on-site;
- whether or not the employee can switch on-call duties with other employees;
- whether or not the employee can engage in personal activities;
- how much time the employer gives the employee to get to work after being called in;
- how far an employee is allowed to travel his or her place of employment while on control; and
- how often the employee is called into work while on-call.
It comes down to how much control the employer has over an employee’s “free time” while the employee is on-call. The less control an employee has over what, where, and when he or she can do something, the more likely he or she will be eligible for on-call overtime.
If you believe your employer did not pay you overtime owed to you, you want to make sure you keep a record of it. Identify the days and hours you worked and compare that to your pay stub or statement. Keep track of any other relevant information as well.
After you have identified the hours owed to you, you may want to first address the error to your supervisor or to the appropriate person in Human Resources. It may have simply been a mistake that can be rectified fairly easily.
In other cases, though, the employer may deny a mistake was made. At this time you should contact a lawyer for a free initial consultation to determine if you should file a complaint and seek recovery of your unpaid overtime.
If you believe you are owed overtime and your employer has denied payment of it (or you fear to confront for whatever reason your employer about the overtime), contact Sirmabekian Law Firm online or at 818-473-5003. We dedicate our practice to workers in and around the Los Angeles area who have been taken advantage of by their employers. We are committed. We are experienced. And we work hard to make sure your hard work is compensated fully and fairly.
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