California employers can require employees to work overtime. They can even demote, discipline or terminate employees who refuse to work overtime.
Despite being allowed to force employees to work overtime, employers nonetheless must:
- Properly pay employees at the appropriate overtime pay rates
- Comply with the state’s mandatory days-of-rest law
Employees Working Overtime Must Be Paid at the Proper Overtime Rate
California law requires employers to pay their employees overtime wages if they work more than eight hours in a workday or 40 hours in a workweek. Eight hours of labor is considered a full day’s work.
So employment beyond eight hours in a workday or more than six days in a workweek is permissible so long as employees are paid as follows:
- One and one-half times the employee’s regular rate of pay for all hours worked over eight hours and up to and including 12 hours in any workday
- Double the employee’s regular pay rate, also known as double time, for all hours worked over eight hours on the seventh consecutive workday in a workweek
- One and one-half times the employee’s regular pay rate for the first eight hours worked on the seventh consecutive workday in a workweek
- Double the employee’s regular pay rate for all hours worked over 12 hours in any workday
These laws still apply to mandatory overtime under California labor law.
Employees Must Be Given at Least Four Days of Rest Every Month
California Labor Code Sections 551 and 552 state that every employee is entitled to one day’s rest out of seven days worked. But courts have interpret these sections to mean that “on average” employees must be given four days off per month. So long as employers give their employees this time off, there is no restriction on the number of overtime hours they can make their employees work.
In short, if your employer wants you to work overtime, you generally have to do it. But keep in mind, this is only a brief discussion on overtime laws and issues. If you think you are being forced to work overtime in violation of the law, consult an attorney.