Many types of workers are entitled to overtime compensation when they work more than 40 hours in a single workweek, more than eight hours in a single workday, or more than six consecutive days in a single workweek. Overtime pay consists of one and a half times a worker’s regular rate of pay for all applicable hours. Overtime pay becomes two times a worker’s regular rate of pay when someone works more than twelve hours in a single workday or more than eight hours on the seventh consecutive day of a workweek.

Paying overtime is not optional if a qualifying employee works enough hours within one of the aforementioned periods. It does not matter how many employees an employer has or even if the employer specifically asks employees not to work overtime. If an overtime threshold is exceeded, that time must be compensated in overtime pay.

In California, there are several categories of workers who are not entitled to overtime compensation. Some employers may attempt to misclassify employees to avoid paying overtime. Below, we review the specifics of these exemptions. Workers should familiarize themselves with these exemptions to ensure their employers are not unlawfully denying overtime pay.

Independent Contractors

Independent contractors are not considered employees under the law and instead make up a separate class of workers. A worker is hired as an independent contractor if they are to perform a specific service, for a specific result, for specific pay. The independent contractor must have control over how that service is completed.

Independent contractor misclassification is a major issue. Employers will sometimes hire workers as independent contractors but treat them like employees. However, they will use their independent contractor status to deny overtime compensation.

You may have been misclassified as an independent contractor if:

  • Your employer is providing you with tools or equipment
  • Your employer is requiring you to work certain hours of the day
  • Your employer is exerting control over how you do your job
  • Your employer is asking you to attend meetings with employees
  • Your employer is asking you to work for them exclusively and/or indefinitely
  • You are doing the same work as part-time or full-time employees

You should speak to a legal professional if you are worried you may be an employee who has been misclassified as an independent contractor, especially if you are working long hours without overtime pay. Examples of genuine independent contractor jobs include photographers shooting a single event, graphic designers producing images for a campaign, maids cleaning a residence, and landscapers beautifying a yard.

Exempt Employees

California’s overtime laws do not apply to employees who are considered “exempt.” An exempt employee has professional, administrative, or executive duties, and their responsibilities must require them to make independent decisions.

An employee must also be paid twice the state’s minimum wage for full-time employment (40 hours per week) to be exempt from overtime laws. For employers with 26 or more employees, the “exempt employee” income minimum is currently $62,400 annually or $1,120 per week.

Examples of professions that are often considered exempt in California include:

  • Administrative assistants
  • Executives
  • Computer professionals
  • Doctors
  • Surgeons

If an exempt employee is paid hourly, they must still be paid for all hours worked. All hours will be paid at the regular rate of pay described in their employment agreement.

Again, some employers will misclassify non-exempt employees as “exempt” to avoid paying overtime. Not all office jobs will necessarily be exempt, even if they may seem “white collar.” Consider whether your job responsibilities are primarily administrative, professional, or executive and whether you have independence in carrying them out. A lawyer can help determine whether you have been misclassified and are entitled to overtime compensation.

Other Major Overtime Exemptions in California

Unionized employees may not necessarily be beholden to California’s overtime laws. If a union’s collective bargaining agreement negotiates a regular rate that is at least 30% higher than the state’s minimum wage and an overtime rate, their members do not follow the usual overtime rules and can instead defer to the language in the agreement. If a collective bargaining agreement does not meet these requirements, employers must pay the union’s members overtime under the state’s laws.

Employees who would otherwise be entitled to overtime pay but participate in an alternative workweek will not receive overtime under the usual rules. In an alternate workweek, employees typically work four 10-hour days per week. In this arrangement, employees agree to relinquish overtime pay for the two extra hours they are working each day. To implement an alternate workweek, at least two-thirds of affected employees must approve the change via a secret vote. An employer cannot unilaterally decide to implement an alternate workweek.

Several other professions and types of employees are exempt from overtime rules in California, including:

  • 24-hour nannies (in some cases)
  • Agricultural workers
  • Camp counselors
  • Live-in house workers
  • Outside salespeople (if they meet certain conditions)

Denied Overtime Pay? Discuss Your Case with Attorney Bill Marder.

For over 25 years, Attorney Bill Marder has helped employees throughout California seek justice when their rights have been violated. If your employer refuses to provide overtime compensation or has misclassified you, Bill can walk you through your legal options and serve as your trusted advocate every step of the way. By filing a lawsuit against your employer, you may be able to recover unpaid wages (plus interest), legal fees, and other damages.

Get started on your case today. Schedule a free initial consultation by calling (888) 796-4010 or contacting the Polaris Law Group online.

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