An Employee’s Guide to Overtime Wage Claims

As any overtime lawyer in Los Angeles will inform you, California has some of the most stringent employment laws in the United States. If you are legally allowed to work for a business, company, or organization in the state, you have various employee rights guaranteed by law. That includes the right to receive overtime wages from your employer.

What are overtime wages?

Overtime wages are the payment you are entitled to receive from your employer for working longer than the prescribed amount of time in a day or a week for your regular job. For instance, you might stay on after the end of the workday to put away equipment, or you might show up early at the workplace to set up equipment. As this constitutes work done for the employer, you need to be compensated for it.

Who is eligible for overtime wages?

You are eligible for overtime wages if you put in more than your normal hours during a workday or a workweek and are a non-exempt employee, aged 18 or above, and legally permitted to hold a job in California.

You won’t be eligible for overtime pay if you are an exempt employee, a unionized employee, an employee with an alternative workweek schedule (four weekdays of 10 working hours each), or an independent contractor. Also, if you hold a full-time white-collar administrative, executive, or professional position with a fixed salary and earn at least twice the minimum wage, you are not entitled to receive overtime pay.

When can you get overtime wages?

You are entitled to receive overtime wages if you work more than your regular work hours. For most people, who work full-time and receive hourly wages, a full-time workday constitutes working for eight hours in a single day and a full-time workweek is working for 40 hours for six consecutive days. If you work longer than eight hours in a single day or for longer than 40 hours in a single week, your employer must pay you overtime wages.

Please note that you only have an overtime wage claim if you work eight hours in a single day, not eight hours spread across two days. Also, 40 hours per week is for six consecutive days in the same week. For instance, from Monday to Saturday. Not for hours that spill over from one week to the other, such as from Wednesday to Tuesday.

How much overtime pay can you get?

In California, as per the wage and hour law, if you work longer than your scheduled eight hours per day or your scheduled 40 hours per week, you can get overtime wages that are one and a half times your regular hourly pay rate. However, your employer must pay double that when you work longer than 12 hours on a workday or if you work for more than eight hours on the seventh consecutive day of the week.

What can you do if your employer refuses to pay you overtime wages?

According to the wage and hour employment law, employers must pay you the overtime premium if you have worked for long hours in a day or a week. They are legally prohibited from withholding your overtime wages. Some employers might, nevertheless, try to violate the law and cheat you out of your rightful earnings. This is known as wage theft.

The amounts may be small but could add up to something substantial over time. So, it isn’t something you should ignore. It may help to speak to your employer and ask them to pay what they legally owe you.

If that doesn’t work, you may need to consider hiring an overtime lawyer in Los Angeles and taking legal action. Many employees tend to shy away from that option, thinking it might be too expensive or that their employer might retaliate against them. However, you don’t have to worry about those issues.

Firstly, many lawyers take cases on a contingency basis. That means you only have to pay them after they win the case and you get awarded damages. As per California’s wage and hour law, if you win the case, your employee also must pay your attorney’s fees. Additionally, they cannot retaliate against you.

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