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Who Is Entitled to Overtime Pay?

The Guha Law Firm Dec. 7, 2023

Have you ever worked extra hours and wondered if you are entitled to overtime pay? Are you consistently racking up hours past your usual work schedule and feeling the strain? If so, you are not alone. Many employees in California and the rest of the United States are unsure about their rights when it comes to receiving compensation for working overtime. It’s incredibly important to gain clarity when it comes to overtime pay in the state of California.

As an employee, you have rights that deserve protection. You should understand these rights.

At The Guha Law Firm, we’re ready to stand by your side and pursue a favorable outcome when you need it the most. If you live in Orange and elsewhere in Southern California, including throughout San Bernardino, Los Angeles, and Riverside counties, set up a consultation with our attorney as soon as possible. We’re here to help you move forward. 

Who Is Entitled to Overtime Pay?

Federal Law 

According to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), all non-exempt employees are entitled to overtime pay. This means that any employee who is covered by the FLSA and works more than 40 hours in a workweek must be paid at a rate of one and a half times their regular hourly rate for every hour worked over 40.

This applies to both hourly and salaried employees, as long as they meet the criteria for non-exempt status. This law applies to most employees in the United States, with some limited exceptions. Some states have their own laws regarding overtime pay—including California—so it's essential to understand the specific regulations in your state. 

State Law 

Here in California, just like in other states, employees are entitled to receive overtime pay for any hours worked over eight in a workday or 40 in a workweek. In California, employees are also entitled to double the regular rate of pay for any hours worked over 12 in a workday. 

Exempt vs. Non-Exempt Employees

It's essential to understand the difference between an exempt and a non-exempt employee when it comes to overtime pay. An exempt employee is not entitled to receive overtime pay, regardless of the number of hours they work in a week or day. To be classified as exempt, an employee must meet certain criteria set by the FLSA, such as earning a salary of at least $684 per week and performing specific job duties. 

Non-exempt employees, on the other hand, are ‘not exempt’ from FLSA regulations. These employees are entitled to receive overtime pay for any hours worked over 40 in a workweek. 

California Overtime Policies

The state of California has strict overtime policies in place to protect the rights of employees. Understanding these policies—and reaching out to a skilled employment attorney when you need help—can ensure your rights are being protected.  

Unauthorized Overtime 

An employer cannot force an employee to work overtime without their consent, except in certain situations discussed below. If an employee works unauthorized overtime, they are entitled to receive overtime pay. Keep this in mind: even if an employer has a policy against unauthorized overtime, they are still generally required by law to compensate the employee for the extra hours worked at the appropriate overtime rate. This is based on the premise that it's the employer's responsibility to control the work schedule. If an employer doesn't want employees to work overtime, they need to ensure mechanisms are in place to prevent it. Of course, while an employee is technically eligible to be paid for unauthorized overtime, repeated violations of the policy could certainly lead to disciplinary action. 

Mandatory Overtime

Under certain specific circumstances, an employer can require an employee to work overtime. For example, your employer may require overtime to meet business demands or during emergency situations. There are certain restrictions in these situations—a workday cannot exceed a maximum of 16 hours and an employee cannot work more than six consecutive days without a day off in a workweek. If you're asked to work beyond these limits, you have the right to refuse. Furthermore, employers cannot discriminate or retaliate against employees who refuse to work hours that cross these limits.  

Just remember, if you’re a non-exempt employee, you are entitled to receive overtime pay for any hours worked beyond the standard eight hours in a day or 40 hours in a week. This includes emergency situations. 

Comp Time Instead of OT 

In California, employers are not allowed to offer comp time (hour-for-hour paid time off) instead of paying overtime wages. This is illegal in most cases, going against the state's overtime policies. 

Experienced Legal Guidance: The Guha Law Firm

Every case is unique. Our employment law attorney offers individualized counsel and strong advocacy when you’re facing an issue with your employer. At The Guha Law Firm, we are proud to serve clients throughout California, including Orange County and the rest of the state.