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Overtime And Breaks In California – What Employees Are Entitled To Do

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Employers Don’t Pay Overtime In Order To Save Money

Sometimes, in an effort to save money, employers in California deny employees overtime pay, lunch breaks or rest breaks. The following is what employees are entitled to under California wage and hour laws.

Overtime Pay Laws

For any time worked over eight hours in a day, the employee is entitled to time and a half. For any hours worked over 12 hours in a day, the employee is entitled to double time. For over 40 hours worked in a week, the rate is time and a half. For working seven days in a workweek, the employee is entitled to double time for all hours worked that seventh day. Sometimes, employers force employees to punch out, but require employees to do work after their eight hour shift. This is called “off the clock” overtime. Employees who are denied overtime pay in any manner are entitled to their overtime wages plus penalties and interest pursuant to the California Labor Code.

California Laws Regarding Overtime For Exempt And Non-Exempt Employees

Employees in California are divided into two categories: exempt and non-exempt. The determination of whether an employee is exempt or non-exempt is established by what job the employee does, how he or she is paid, how much discretion the employee has in doing his or her job, and whether the employee has control over policy or procedural decisions of the company, amongst other factors. Many (but not all) salaried employees are considered exempt, and most (but not all) hourly employees are non-exempt.

Some employers will intentionally misclassify an employee or group of employees as “exempt” in order to avoid paying overtime. The exempt employee laws in California are confusing and should be analyzed on a case-by-case basis.

Mandatory Lunch Breaks In California And Waivers

Non-exempt employees who work shifts of five hours or more must receive a 30-minute, uninterrupted meal period during their shift. If the shift is more than 10 hours, the employee is entitled to two 30-minute meal periods. During these meal breaks, the employee generally must be relieved of all duties. Hourly employees are usually required to “clock out” during meal breaks. While employers must, with few exceptions, make these meal periods available to their non-exempt employees, the employees do have the right to forego meal breaks during shifts of less than six hours.

Penalty For Denied Meal Breaks And Waiver Of Breaks

If an employer does not allow an employee to take a meal break, that employee is entitled to a penalty of one hour of pay at his or her regular hourly wage. However, an employee and the employer may agree to waive the meal break requirement. The agreement, however, must be in writing, and the employee must have the right to revoke the agreement at any time.

Mandatory Rest Breaks And Penalties

California law also requires employers to have a policy that allows non-exempt employees to have regular rest breaks. For every four hours worked, employees are entitled to a 10-minute rest break. Employees who are prevented by the employer from taking a rest break are entitled to one hour of pay at their regular wage for each day they were denied one or more rest break.

Have Your Rights Been Violated? Contact the Navarette Law Firm.

For more information on California wage and hour laws, contact an experienced attorney at our San Jose employment law firm: 866-994-BEST (2378).

Meet Arthur
Meet Arthur Navarette, Esq. »
  • Navarette Law Firm, 1992-Present
  • Judge Pro Tem Superior Court, 1996-2006
  • Prudential and John Hancock Legal Departments, 1989-1992
  • UCLA School of Law, 1985-1989
  • Xerox, Motorola, IBM, 1982-1985
  • University of California, Berkeley, 1979-1982

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