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California Overtime Pay Law

Filed under Office & HR.

Employers in California must conform with these state rules regarding overtime pay for employees.

In California, any employee older than 17 years of age, as well as any 16 or 17-year-old employee who is not legally required to attend school, must generally be paid one and one-half times the employee's regular rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours in a workweek.

Employees must be paid one and one-half times their regular rate for work exceeding eight hours in a day or 40 hours in a week, and double time is required for hours in excess of 12 on any workday or in excess of eight on the seventh day.

Overtime wages must be paid no later than the payday for the next regular pay period after which the overtime wages are earned.

Generally, an employee may not be required to report for work unless 10 hours have elapsed since the termination of the previous day's employment.

Exemptions and Special Rules

Workers in the following occupations are exempt:

  • the manufacturing industry
  • the mercantile industry
  • professional, technical, clerical, and similar occupations
  • the public housekeeping industry
  • the transportation industry

Collective bargaining agreements. The overtime provisions are generally inapplicable to employees covered by collective bargaining agreements that provide premium wage rates for overtime work and a regular hourly rate of pay for the employees of not less than 30 percent more than the state minimum wage.

Effective January 1, 2013, payment of a fixed salary to a nonexempt employee is considered compensation only for the employee’s regular, nonovertime hours, notwithstanding a private agreement to the contrary.

In lieu of overtime pay, an employee may receive compensating time off at a rate of one and one-half hours for each hour of employment (or more if a higher rate of overtime is due) if provided under a collective bargaining agreement or a written agreement between an employer and the employee.

Permitted alternative work schedules. The following alternative work schedules are permitted without subjecting the employer to overtime liability:

  • Manufacturing employers who operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week who had a preexisting work arrangement may establish a regular work schedule that includes three regular workdays of not more than 12 hours per day, or three 12-hour workdays in one workweek and four 12-hour days in the following week, for an average workweek of 42 hours over a two-week period. Overtime must be paid for hours in excess of 12 per day or 40 per week. Such a schedule must be agreed to by at least two-thirds of the affected workweek.
  • Specific rules, found in wage orders issued by government agencies, apply in certain industries including:
    • agricultural occupations
    • canning, freezing and preserving industry
    • industries handling products after harvest
    • amusement and recreation
    • broadcasting
    • household occupations
    • laundry, linen supply, dry cleaning, and dyeing industry
    • personal service industry
    • professional, technical, clerical, mechanical and similar occupations
    • public housekeeping (including certain employees working in residential child-care facilities)
    • transportation
  • Special rules apply to employees of ski establishments, stables, and licensed hospitals.

Domestic Worker Bill of Rights. Effective January 1, 2014, until January 1, 2017, (unless extended) domestic workers who are personal attendants are not permitted to work for more than nine hours in a workday or more than 45 hours in a workweek unless the employee receives overtime at the rate of one and one-half times the employee’s regular rate for all hours worked over nine hours in a work day or over 45 hours in a workweek.

The law covers domestic workers working in private households, either employed by the householder or by a third-party employer recognized in the health care industry, including childcare providers, caregivers of people with disabilities, sick, convalescing or elderly persons, house cleaners, housekeepers, maids and other household occupations. Exempt under the law are persons employed in facilities providing board or lodging in addition to medical, nursing, convalescent, aged, or child care, including, but not limited to, residential care facilities for the elderly.

The law also exempts the following:

  • a person who is the parent, grandparent, spouse, sibling, child or legally adopted child of the domestic work employer;
  • those under the age of 18 providing babysitting services in the employer’s home;
  • casual babysitters where the work is intermittent and babysitting is not the person’s vocation;
  • those employed by licensed health care facilities;
  • those employed under voucher programs to care for the disabled;
  • those who perform services through the In-Home Supportive Services program; or
  • those employed to provide child care and exempt from licensing requirements under the Health and Safety Code if the parent or guardian of the child receiving the services receives child care and development services under programs authorized under the Child Care and Development Services Act or the California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids Act.

Administrative, executive and professional employees. The Industrial Welfare Commission may establish exemptions from the general overtime pay rules for administrative, executive and professional employees if the employees:

  • are primarily engaged in the duties that meet the test of the exemption;
  • customarily and regularly exercise discretion and independent judgment in performing those duties; and
  • earn a monthly salary equivalent at least two times the state minimum wage for full-time employees.

Registered nurses. A registered nurse is not exempt from overtime pay coverage unless he or she individually meets the criteria for exemptions established for administrative or executive employees.

Teachers. Certain private school teachers for grades K through 12 are exempt from the state overtime pay rules.

However, the overtime exemption does not apply to:

  • tutors
  • teaching assistants
  • instructional aides
  • student teachers
  • day care providers
  • vocational instructors
  • other similar employees

Professional computer software employees. For 2014, the exemption from overtime requirements for employees in the computer software field applies if the employee's hourly rate of pay is not less than $40.38 ($39.90 per hour for 2013) or the annualized full-time salary equivalent of that rate, provided that all the other requirements for the exemption are met and that in each workweek the employee receives at least $40.38 per hour worked.

The wage rates may be adjusted annually by an amount equal to a percentage increase in the California Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers.

Licensed physicians and surgeons. For 2014, the minimum hourly rate of pay for licensed physicians and surgeons to qualify as exempt from the overtime rules is $73.57 ($72.70 for 2013).

The wage rates may be adjusted annually by an amount equal to a percentage increase in the California Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers.

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