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Employee rights: A 40-hour work week may give more flexibility

Interested parties in California are suggesting a change to the current rule that requires employees to work eight hours per day. Current law rules that employers must pay overtime at a rate of time-and-a-half for any additional hours worked. The suggestion is for employee rights to be altered to a system that will give workers more flexibility and save employers unnecessary overtime obligations.

The argument is that the workload in California varies throughout the year, and a more flexible system can benefit both employers and employees. Currently, an employee who needs a couple of hours off to carry out parental responsibilities has to sacrifice sick hours or vacation time. However, he or she may have to work more than eight hours the following day to catch up with what was left undone the previous day. The employer will then have to pay overtime rates for those extra hours.

To benefit both employers and employees, it is suggested that the work-hour requirements should be based on 40 hours per week rather than eight hours per day. If this applies, an employee can schedule his or her work hours by preference, as long as it makes up 40 hours per week. Employers will then only be required to pay overtime for hours in excess of the weekly cap.

Such a change can provide a lot of flexibility to employees while it could even benefit family life. However, they may have to keep accurate records of the hours they work to ensure advantage is not taken by employers. If any irregularities that violate employee rights become apparent, the employee will be entitled to discuss the issue with an experienced California employment law attorney who can suggest options to resolve the matter either through negotiations or litigation.

Source:, "Dump the 8-hour workday", David Jaffe, Aug. 22, 2017

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