While there’s some common ground between federal laws and California overtime laws, there are a few slight differences that might force California-based employers to rethink how they’re calculating overtime.

Federal law only stipulates overtime on a weekly basis, but California also sets a daily limit on regular employee hours. This is rare but not unique: three other states and two U.S. territories also have daily overtime stipulations.

How Does Overtime Work in California?

Any work in excess of eight hours in a workday or 40 hours in a workweek and the first eight hours worked on the seventh day of work in any one workweek must be compensated at no less than one and one-half times the regular rate of pay for a California employee.

Using employees’ regular pay rate as a base is easy when they are paid one regular hourly rate. However, for eligible employees who are salaried, or are paid two different rates throughout the workweek, more specific calculations will be necessary. Vacation hours and discretionary bonuses should not be considered in these calculations.

California overtime laws must be applied to eligible employees whether the overtime is authorized or unauthorized, and employees must comply to all requirements if eligible.

What Is Double Time?

California has an additional caveat that sets its overtime laws apart from other states: double time.

Double time is similar to traditional overtime pay in that it’s based on the employee’s normal wage rate. Under double time, however, the employee is entitled to twice their normal wage, rather than one-and-a-half times. This can lead to significant (and often unexpected) payroll costs for California employers.

When Does Double Time Begin?

According to California overtime laws, eligible employees must receive double their regular pay rate for any time they’ve worked over 12 hours in a single workday.

The same double time compensation is required for eligible employees who have worked 7 consecutive days in a week and put in more than 8 hours during the 7th day. (Remember: the first 8 hours of work on the 7th consecutive day are also considered overtime, entitling the employee to time-and-a-half pay.)

Employees who are eligible for California’s overtime law must be 18 years of age or older and must be employed in a non-administrative, non-executive or non-professional role. Eligibility is largely based on salary and hourly rate of pay, but special exemptions may still apply.

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