California Overtime Laws: A Basic Overview
When taken at face value, California’s overtime laws are fairly straight–forward. They ensure that qualified employees who work more than a designated number of hours per day or per week are paid at a higher rate for the extra time worked. But they also include certain exemptions. Using that as a basic foundation, let’s take a closer look at the current laws along with important changes that have already or will soon take effect.
A basic overview of existing overtime laws
Overtime laws apply to non-exempt employees age 18 and older, or those age 16 or 17 who are “not required by law to attend school” and are “not otherwise prohibited by law from engaging in the subject work.”
Under California overtime laws, non-employees cannot be forced to work more than eight hours per day or 40 hours per week unless they are paid at “time-and-a-half” for any time that exceeds 8 hours, and “double time” for any time that exceeds 12 hours in a given day. The laws also require that qualified employees are paid at “time-and-a-half” for “the first 8 hours worked on the seventh consecutive day of work in a work week” and double-time for “all hours worked in excess of eight on the seventh consecutive day of work in a work week.”
As previously noted, however, not all employees are eligible for overtime. The rules pertaining to these exemptions are far too comprehensive for discussion in a single post, but here are the key points.
Basically, you are not eligible for overtime under California laws if you are classified as 1) an executive, administrative or professional employee, 2) if you work for a city, county or the state, 3) if your job involves certain types of sales, 4) if you are related to the employer, or 5) if you drive a taxi. The exemptions also apply to employees covered by certain collective bargaining agreements, commercial fishermen, sheepherders, and certain airline employees.
A detailed list of exemptions can be found here. For the purposes of this post, however, it is important to note that some exemptions are based on the method of payment or amount earned. For example, overtime exclusions allowed by state law apply to:
- Employees (except minors) whose earnings exceed one and one-half times the minimum wage and more than half their compensation represents commissions; and
- Any employee who is engaged in work that is primarily intellectual, managerial, or creative, and which requires the exercise of discretion and independent judgment, and for which the remuneration is not less than two times the monthly state minimum wage for full-time employment.
If you believe you have been wrongly classified as an exempt employee or you have been denied overtime, seek professional legal assistance. You may be able to pursue legal options for recovery of unpaid wages. Our experienced and knowledgeable attorney can help resolve your dispute with your employer, and ensure you receive fair treatment and overtime compensation under the law. Contact us to schedule an assessment of your case today: (213) 293-7881 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article should only be used for informational purposes. It does not constitute legal advice, and it does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you need legal advice, please contact us.
 State of California, Department of Industrial Relations, Labor Commissioner’s Office, Overtime, http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/faq_overtime.htm
 State of California, Department of Industrial Relations, Labor Commissioner’s Office, Exemptions from the overtime laws, https://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/faq_overtimeexemptions.htm