When must your employer pay you overtime?


As a California worker, you expect to receive overtime pay whenever you work more than 40 hours in a one-week period. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, your employer must pay you this overtime at the minimum rate of 1 1/2 times your regular wage or salary amount for each hour of overtime you work each week. The only exception to this federal requirement is if you are a qualified exempt executive, administrative or professional employee.

The U.S. Department of Labor updated the overtime rules two years ago, and the new rules became effective on Dec. 1, 2016. They apply to you if you are a full-time employee over the age of 16 making a minimum of $913 per week or $47,476 annually.

Your work week does not necessarily go from Monday through Friday. It can be any seven-day period during which you work at least 40 hours. For instance, if you normally work on Saturday or Sunday as part of your regular weekly schedule, you do not get overtime pay for working those days. In addition, if you work nights so that your regular shift encompasses parts of two calendar days, it is your shift hours that count, not the days on which they occur.

Exempt employees

Some employees are exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act’s overtime rules. You are an EAP; i.e., an exempt executive, administrative or professional employee, if your employment status passes the following three tests:

  1. The salary basis test: Your fixed salary cannot be reduced because of your work quality or quantity.
  2. The salary level test: Your salary level must be at least $913 per week or $1,397 per week if you work in the motion picture industry.
  3. The duties test: Your work duties must be primarily of an executive, administrative or professional nature.

Automatic updates

These overtime and exemption rules automatically update every three years. The next update, therefore, will occur on Dec. 1, 2019.

Keeping records

While your employer must keep records of the number of hours you work, you should likewise keep your own records, especially if you do not time in and out of work by means of a time clock. Wage and hour disputes between employees and employers are not at all uncommon, and you need time records to back up any claim you file against your employer.

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