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Wage and Hour

California employment laws protect your right to be paid for your work. If you work enough hours, you are entitled to overtime or double time pay. If you aren’t paid, you can collect penalties from your employer. Here is what you need to know.

When am I Entitled to Compensation?

The California Labor Code requires your employer to pay you for all hours you are “suffered or permitted” to work, and for all time when your employer exercises control over what you do or how you spend your time.

Example 1: A cook is scheduled to end his shift at a restaurant at 6:00 PM. It is 5:55 PM and his replacement is running late. The manager tells the cook to continue working until his replacement arrives. He is relieved at 6:30 PM. The manager “suffered” him to work an extra 30 minutes by requiring him to do something in service of the restaurant. He must be paid for this work.

Example 2: A cashier at a grocery store finishes her shift at 9:00 PM and clocks off. As she is about to exit the store, a customer accidentally knocks down a display of cereal boxes. The cashier immediately begins picking up the boxes to prevent a safety hazard. The manager walks by and thanks her. She leaves after spending 15 minutes cleaning. The manager “permitted” her to work an extra 15 minutes by not preventing her from doing something in service of the store. Even though the manager did not require the cashier to perform this work, she must still be paid for it.

Example 3: A medical assistant works at a doctor’s office from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM every day. One day, the doctor is sick and cancels all her appointments. She asks the assistant to come to the office anyway because a very important package is expected. She invites the assistant to read, browse the web, or listen to music, as long as he responds to his cell phone and promptly greets the delivery person. The medical assistant was subject to the control of the doctor for his full shift that day, because he could not have turned his phone off or traveled away from the office. He must be paid for this time even though very little of it directly benefitted the office.

How Much is the Minimum Wage?

The minimum wage in California varies depending on the size of your employer and the city or county where you live. For employers with 25 or fewer employees, the minimum wage is $12.00 per hour. For employers with 26 or more employees, the minimum wage is $13.00 per hour.

Many cities or counties have local ordinances establishing a higher minimum wage for work performed within those cities or counties. If the local minimum wage where you are employed is higher than the state minimum wage, you are entitled to the higher local wage.

When am I Entitled to Overtime?

The California Labor Code entitles you to overtime, or one-and-one-half times your hourly wage, for certain hours worked in three situations.

First, if you work more than 8 hours in one day. Second, if you work more than 40 hours in one workweek. Third, if you work all 7 days in a workweek.

Example 1: Maya worked 5 hours on Monday, 8 hours on Tuesday, and 9 hours on Wednesday. She is not entitled to overtime on Monday or Tuesday. However, since she worked more than 8 hours on Wednesday, she is to be paid for that additional work at her overtime rate. She has earned 1 hour of overtime on Wednesday.

Example 2: Javier worked Monday through Saturday for 7 hours a day. He worked a total of 42 hours per week. Because this exceeds 40 hours, he has earned 2 hours of overtime that week.

Example 3: Liz worked Monday through Sunday for 3 hours a day. Ordinarily she is not entitled to daily overtime for 3-hour shifts. Ordinarily she is not entitled to weekly overtime for working 21 hours. However, because Sunday was her seventh workday in a row, all hours that day are paid as overtime, regardless of the daily or weekly total. She has therefore earned 3 hours of overtime that week.

When am I Entitled to Double Time?

The California Labor Code entitles you to double time, or twice your hourly wage, for certain hours worked in two situations.

First, if you work more than 12 hours in one day. Second, if you work all 7 days in a workweek and you work more than 8 hours on the final day.

Example 1: Chuck worked 15 hours on Thursday. He is entitled to 3 hours of double time, the amount by which his shift exceeded 12 hours.

Example 2: Shawna worked 1 hour per day Monday through Saturday but worked 10 hours on Sunday. She only worked 16 hours altogether. However, because she worked on the 7th straight day, she is entitled to 2 hours of double time, the amount by which her shift exceeded 8 hours.

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