California law guarantees all non-exempt employees their required overtime pay for all time worked outside of a regular workweek or workday. Here is everything an employee needs to know about California Labor Code 510: overtime law.

All non-exempt employees are required to be paid overtime of at least one-and-one-half times their regular hourly wage for each hour worked in excess of 40 during their workweek. This is a federal law and applies to all non-exempt employees in every state. However, California has an additional overtime pay law to protect its nonexempt employees.

What is a Nonexempt Employee?

The California Labor Code protects the additional overtime pay for all non-exempt employees. Non-exempt employees have protected rights that other employees are exempt from, such as overtime pay, minimum wage pay, and rest/meal break requirements. If an employee is classified as non-exempt, then they are guaranteed these rights as stated by California Labor Code 515.

If an employee meets all of the following requirements, they are classified as non-exempt and thus are entitled to additional benefits:

  • An employee who does not make at least twice California’s minimum wage.
  • An employee whose duties do not require the use of their own independent judgment to complete their activities in the workforce.
  • An employee who does not work in administrative or executive decision-making.

Related: CA Labor Code 515: Exempt vs. Nonexempt Employees

California Overtime Law

California Labor Code 515 adds an additional protection to overtime and therefore guarantees non-exempt employees more pay for their work outside of regular hours. In addition to the federal law that protects overtime payment for work over 40 hours a week, California law guarantees:

  • Every non-exempt employee is required overtime pay for any time worked in excess of 8 hours in one workday.
  • All non-exempt employees must receive double the regular rate of pay for excess time over 12 hours in one workday.
  • Any non-exempt employee working a 7th consecutive day must be paid overtime for all hours worked on the 7th day.
    • Additionally, if the employee works in excess of 8 hours on their 7th consecutive day, all hours worked in excess of 8 shall be paid at double the regular rate of pay.

What is Misclassification?

A common issue for employees who do not receive their correct amount of overtime pay stems from misclassification. Misclassification is the incorrect categorization of exempt from non-exempt employees. Some employers may try to misclassify a non-exempt employee as an exempt one to avoid providing them their extra benefits, such as overtime pay. This is why it is crucial for all employees to understand how a non-exempt employee is defined by California law, so they can be sure they are receiving their deserved overtime wage.

What is a regular workday/workweek?

It is also important for an employee to understand how the state and government define the workweek and workday. Federal and state law designates the regular workweek as 7 consecutive days that begin with the same calendar day every week. Additionally, California defines a workday as any consecutive 24-hour period commencing at the same time each calendar day. An employee ensuring they can define a workweek and workday will help them be proactive in calculating their overtime pay. If an employee feels as if they are not receiving their correct overtime pay, knowing the legal definition of the workweek and workday will help the employee properly advocate for their deserved benefits.

What are the Exemptions to OT?

There are some cases where an employer can deny their employee overtime. An employee is only allowed to refuse overtime for a salaried or exempt employee. Here are all of the exempt/salaried employees an employer can legally refuse overtime to under California law:

  • Executives: An individual who spends more than half of their time at work managing the business or departments or a business.
  • Administrative: An employee who spends more than half of their time at work helping the proprietorship or another exempt employee.
  • Professional: A worker who has a certain license to practice a profession or is working in an artistic profession.
  • Computer Software Professional: An employee who works in highly theoretical aspects of computer software and is paid more than $41/hour.
  • Outside salesperson: An individual who regularly works outside of the office, to do sales and order fulfillment.
    • The only stipulation is that this employee does not spend a significant portion of their work time doing the same thing as another employee that is non-exempt.
  • State and local government employees: An employee who works for the state or local government agency.

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