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When does an employer have to pay you overtime wages?

Generally speaking, there are three kinds of workers in California. The first is the contractor, who works more or less freelance for a company or even many different clients. Contractors have to pay higher tax rates than employees, but they have substantially more freedom when compared to those directly employed by a specific company.

Direct employment usually involves either salaried workers or hourly workers. Salaried workers make a specific amount for the entire year, regardless of how many hours they work. In other words, they are exempt from overtime pay. Executives and highly educated professionals often accept new jobs on a salary basis.

Quite a few other workers are hourly workers whose income fluctuates with the number of hours they work each pay period. Hourly workers are in most cases the only kind of employee entitled to overtime wages. If you are an hourly worker, your employer should pay you overtime wages when the circumstances justify it.

California has more overtime laws than other states

Most states in this country simply adhere to the federal standard for overtime. The federal overtime law requires that companies pay hourly workers at least time-and-a-half for any hours over 40 that they will work in a given pay period, which is defined as seven subsequent days. That rule applies in California as well, but there are several other situations in which California hourly workers should receive at least 150% of the standard wages for their labor.

If an employee works a shift that lasts longer than eight hours, the hours beyond eight should receive overtime pay. Similarly, if an employee has to work for more than six days in a week, they should receive time-and-a-half on the seventh day, regardless of how many hours they have already worked.

There are few exceptions to these rules, such as for live-in childcare workers, medical workers with standard 12-hour shifts and others in niche careers like camp counselors.

Document any unpaid overtime issues

It is a sad truth that companies can and do try to make more profit than they already do from the labor of their staff. Some companies will do just about anything to avoid their overtime obligations, even though paying existing workers time-and-a-half is typically more affordable than hiring additional staff.

In order to bring a wage claim against your employer, you need to have evidence that they violated your rights. Retaining physical copies or digital images of all of your time cards or clock-in and clock-out records can help you prove that you worked more than 40 hours in a seven-day window of time and that your employer either refused to pay you overtime or altered your time clock records for the same reason.

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