California has some of the strongest worker rights protections in the country. In 2024, several changes were made to California employment law, particularly regarding overtime.
Overtime pay is one and a half times a person’s hourly wage. If an employee works more than 40 hours in one seven-day work week, or more than 8 hours per day, they are paid overtime. For each hour you work over those 40 or 8 hours, you are entitled to overtime pay. This applies to most hourly employees.
If you are paid two different hourly wages during a normal work week, your overtime is calculated based on the average of those two wage rates.
Beginning January 1, 2024, California’s minimum wage will increase to $15.50 an hour. This applies to all employers, regardless of how many workers they employ.
This new minimum wage is due to the 2017 Senate Bill. This annually increased the minimum wage to $15 an hour, then raised it each year afterward to reflect national inflation. This also impacts exempt employees, who must be paid a minimum salary of $64,480. In some areas of the state, the minimum wage is even higher. Employees must be paid the local minimum wage if it is higher than the state or federal minimum wage.
As a result, the new minimum wage law also raises the overtime rate. The overtime minimum rate in California is now $23.25 an hour for non-exempt employees.
Not every salaried employee is considered exempt from overtime laws, although non-exempt employees are usually hourly employees. Exempt salaried employees are not entitled to overtime, while non-exempt salaried employees are. This classification is determined by the Federal Labor Standards Act.
Exempt salaried employees include employees who are paid at least twice the minimum hourly wage for a 40-hour work week. If you are not earning that much, you are not exempt from receiving overtime.
To be eligible for overtime rates, California employees must meet certain requirements. These include:
There are several reasons an employee may be exempt from overtime compensation. Union employees are often exempt from overtime because their union often has provisions for better overtime rates. Other reasons an employee may be exempt include:
Beyond these reasons, there are specific professions that are counted as exempt in most cases. These include:
Unless an employee meets these requirements, they should be considered non-exempt and receive overtime rates.
Since 2022, employers who have more than 25 employees must pay an overtime rate when an agricultural employee works more than 8 hours in a day or 40 hours in a week. Since 2016, their overtime rate has gradually increased. It is now the same as for employees in other industries.
As of 2024, the overtime rate for agriculture employees working for smaller employers has changed. For companies with 25 or fewer employees, they must be paid overtime after 9 hours of work in a work day or 50 hours in a work week.
As of 2024, changes to California labor law will include, among others:
As the California minimum wage has increased to $15.50 an hour, the overtime rate has also increased. This applies to all non-exempt employees who work more than 8 hours in a work day or 40 hours in a work week.
There were also changes to the overtime calculations for agricultural workers. Employers with 25 or fewer employees must pay agricultural workers overtime after they work 9 hours in a work day or 50 hours in a work week. For employers with more than 25 employees, the employees have been entitled to the standard 8 hours a day and 40 hours a week overtime rate payment since 2022.
An employer dictates the hours and schedule worked by employees, and that means they can require you to work overtime. In some circumstances, an employer can discipline an employee for refusing to work scheduled overtime. They can even fire them without it being considered wrongful termination. However, this does not apply if an employee refuses to work a seventh day in a work week. Employees are entitled to a day of rest. However, if they are informed of that right, they can choose to forgo it.
For most workers, a paid ten-minute break period is required for every four hours worked. After working five hours, employees are entitled to one 30-minute unpaid meal break. They can have two meal breaks after working for twelve hours in one workday. Some workers have different break requirements, such as domestic workers or farm workers.
The Law Offices of Miguel S. Ramirez has worked on many overtime violations and other wage and hour claims. Our firm specializes in many forms of employment law. If you believe your worker’s rights have been violated, you should contact an experienced employment attorney.