What Are California Overtime Laws for Salaried Employees?

By Gregory Thyberg on September 16, 2021


group of employeesState and federal employment laws guarantee workers certain rights. Many of these laws refer to issues of pay. Employers are required to provide employees with fair pay, in a timely manner. When applicable, this includes overtime wages for hours worked in excess of the normal workweek. 

Unpaid overtime is a common wage violation. Oftentimes, workers do not realize they are being denied pay, usually because they are salaried employees and are unaware of their rights regarding overtime wages. Here, wage and hour attorney Gregory Thyberg provides a brief overview of California’s overtime laws for salaried employees, so that Sacramento, CA, workers know when to pursue the overtime wages they are due.

Overtime Wages in California

California law requires that employees are paid overtime wages for all hours worked in excess of eight hours a day, as well as hours worked on the seventh consecutive day of work in a workweek. Overtime wages must be paid regardless of if the employer authorized the overtime, although workers can face discipline if they violate an employer’s policy of working overtime without required authorization.

Overtime wages are to be paid at one and a half times the employee’s normal rate of pay for hours in excess of eight hours in a work day (up to 12 hours), and for the first eight hours on the seventh consecutive day of work. Hours worked in excess of 12 hours in a workday, and hours worked in excess of eight hours on the seventh consecutive day of work should be paid at two times the employee’s regular rate of pay.

Are Salaried Employees Due Overtime Pay?

Many Sacramento employees believe that if they are paid on a salary basis rather than an hourly basis, they do not qualify for overtime wages. However, this is not always the case. Salaried employees in California are entitled to overtime wages unless they fall under the exempt status as defined by federal and state laws, or unless they are exempt under the California Labor Code.

Exempt Employees

Exempt employees are those to whom wage and hour laws (including overtime pay) do not apply. Commonly referred to as the white collar exemption, the largest class of exempt employees in California are those who are classified as executive, administrative, or professional employees. To qualify for the white collar exemption, employees must meet these requirements:

  • Have primary duties (50% or more of their responsibilities) that are executive, administrative, or professional in nature
  • Regularly exercise independent judgement at work
  • Earn a salary that is equivalent to at least two times the minimum wage for a 40 hour workweek

In addition to employees who are exempt from overtime pay under the white collar exemption, California law exempts certain professionals from overtime pay, including:

  • Computer and software professionals (if they meet certain criteria)
  • Doctors and surgeons (excluding residents, interns, or those covered by collective bargaining agreements)
  • Certain private school teachers
  • Government and university employees
  • Certain employees who earn commission

Can an Employee Agree to Overtime Exemption?

It is not unheard of for an employer to ask an employee to sign a waiver or contract agreeing to overtime exemption. Sacramento workers should understand that any such agreement is illegal in the state of California. Employers are legally obligated to pay earned overtime wages regardless of if a waiver has been signed.

Contact Us

If you have a dispute for unpaid overtime wages, wage and hour attorney Gregory Thyberg can assist you in pursuing the compensation you are due. To schedule a personal consultation at our law firm, send us a message online, or call (916) 204-9173 at your earliest convenience.

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