Are You Owed Overtime Pay?

Many people work long hours in California, whether it’s a double shift at a restaurant or a late night at a top tech firm. Anyone who exceeds 40 hours of work per week should stop and consider whether their employer owes them any overtime for their extended work hours. Not everyone is entitled to overtime pay under California wage laws, though many employers wrongfully deny employees their rightful overtime compensation.

How Overtime Works
California law provides the right to overtime pay for non-exempt employees who work more than eight hours in a workday or 40 hours in a workweek. If you qualify, you deserve to receive 1.5 times your usual hourly wage for the excess hours. First, you should determine the hours you worked, considering the following:

•   A workday takes place during a 24-hour period of time, starting at a time designated by the employer (or a default of 12:00 am to 11:59 pm).
•   Employers cannot average out hours worked for two or more days to avoid overtime. For example, if you worked 12 hours on Monday and four hours on Tuesday, an employer cannot average eight hours per day to avoid overtime payments for Monday’s work.
•   Employers should also establish whether the workweek begins on Monday or on another day, and cannot adjust the starting day for a certain employee without a legitimate business purpose.
•   If you worked more than 40 hours during a particular workweek, you deserve overtime rates for the extended hours.
•   Even if you worked 40 hours and 15 minutes, you deserve 1.5 times your hourly wage for the 15 minutes.
•   Employers must include time setting up or cleaning up in hours worked. If an employer requires you to arrive 30 minutes early to prepare for work, work eight hours, then stay for an extra 30 minutes to clean up, you deserve overtime pay for the extra hour of work.

You should figure out your specific overtime rate based on your hourly pay and carefully check your pay against your hours worked to determine whether you’re missing overtime payments.

Misclassification of Employees
Some people believe they are not entitled to overtime pay because their employer classified them as “exempt.” However, in many cases, these classifications are wrong and an “exempt” employee should truly be non-exempt. If you’re questioning your classification, an experienced employment attorney can review the circumstances of your employment to determine whether you are owed overtime.

The following are some common errors regarding the classification of exempt employees:

•   Assuming all salaried employees are exempt
•   Giving someone the title of “manager” even though they do not have real management duties
•   Calling someone exempt even though they follow orders instead of using independent judgment and discretion on the job

If you learn that you were misclassified, your employer will likely owe you back pay for unpaid overtime if you worked long hours. It is always worth it to evaluate your employer’s actions to ensure they are in compliance with wage and overtime laws and are not violating your rights as an employee.