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Should my California employer be paying me overtime?

Exemption status determines whether a Los Angeles employee receives extra pay for working longer hours or an extended workweek. Some California employers try to avoid paying overtime through misclassification of employees. If you have an exempt status, the employer is not required to offer more pay than you already get.

Nonexempt adult employees are due overtime which, under some circumstances, can equal a pay rate that is double regular pay. Overtime begins when nonexempt employees put in more than eight hours in a single workday or 40 hours or more than six days in a workweek.

A "time and a half rate" applies to the ninth through twelfth hours of a single workday. For instance, if you normally make $20 per hour, the rate will jump to $30 – regular play plus 50 percent of pay -- for work exceeding the eight-hour daily limit. The rate doubles to $40 for work after 12 hours.

Overtime is also paid when nonexempt employees work on a seventh day during the same workweek. The first eight hours on the extra day are paid at the time-and-a-half rate. The pay rate jumps to twice the regular rate for nine or more hours.

Not all California employees are paid by the hour, so other calculations are needed to come up with a pay rate that can be used to figure overtime. Some full-time employees work unusual schedules like regular 10- or 12-hour days with shorter-than-average workweeks. State laws accommodate different work times and pay structures, like commission.

Questions about the inclusion of bonus pay, salaried workers, unauthorized overtime and legal exclusions can be directed to the state Department of Industrial Relations or an employment attorney. A lawyer's advice also can be valuable if you feel you've been undercompensated by an employer. Overtime violations are more common in California workplaces than many employees realize.

Source: Department of Industrial Relations, "Overtime" accessed Feb. 20, 2015

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