Far too many workers don't really understand their rights under both California state law and federal law. Employees may not understand when they should receive breaks or what protections they have from discrimination and harassment at work. In fact, many people don't even fully understand the nuances of when they should receive overtime pay from their employer.
If you aren't familiar with the laws about overtime pay, you won't understand when your employer violates your rights. Anyone who works an hourly job could potentially earn overtime pay during any given pay period. Understanding your rights as a worker is a critical first step in the process of standing up for yourself.
When you work more than 40 hours in a week, you deserve overtime pay
While some companies may have more generous and liberal policies regarding overtime pay, others have policies that forbid overtime for workers. No company policy can supersede federal requirements. Your employer is free to offer better compensation than the federal overtime pay standard, but they cannot offer less compensation.
According to federal law, employers must set a standard work week. They may start and end that work week at any point, provided that it is a consistent, seven-day stretch of time. The company must keep tack of how many hours employees work during each seven-day work week. Any time an employee's total hours exceed 40 hours during that seven-day period, they must receive at least time and a half compensation for that extra work.
Regardless of what the company policy may be about overtime, the business that you work for absolutely must comply with the requirement to pay 150 percent of your standard hourly wage for any time over 40 hours that you work in one work week.
Employers cannot ask you to work overtime without compensation
Some employers choose to offer double time for weekend shifts or as an incentive for employees who put in more than five or 10 hours of overtime each week. Other companies will do anything in their power to avoid paying overtime rates to workers.
Some companies will go so far as to demand that staff clock out and return to work uncompensated when they reach 40 hours for a given work week. Although these requests are illegal and inappropriate, workers may worry about retaining their jobs and comply out of fear.
If your employer has denied you overtime pay, requested that you work off the clock or even changed your time clock records to avoid paying you overtime, you may have the right to hold your employer accountable for those illegal practices. Start documenting the discrepancy between your worked hours and the compensation you receive to help track what you should receive and build a viable case.