If you are an hourly employee wondering how much you have earned, or an employer wondering how much wages you owe, you are not alone. The wage and hour law in California is very nuanced and often confusing. This confusion stems in no small part from the convoluted, overlapping, and sometimes ostensibly inconsistent nature of California law.

The primary reason for this confusion and overlap is the fact that wage and hour laws in California come from many different sources. For example, the California Labor Code, the Industrial Welfare Commission (“IWC”) Wage Orders, and/or the California Code of Regulations. As if that was not enough, there are also other secondary sources of legal authority, for example, the Department of Industrial Relations, Department of Labor Standards Enforcement (“DLSE”) Opinion Letters, and DLSE Policy Manual.

Merely finding the proper legal authority can be difficult, let alone complying with every potentially applicable rule, regulation, statute, and case authority. For this reason, it is critically important for both employers and employees to consult an experienced overtime compensation attorney and get advice for their specific situation.

As a general rule, however, the following steps should be followed:

Determine Whether the Employee Is Exempt

Not all workers are entitled to receive overtime compensation. Many different kinds of employees are exempt from receiving overtime pay. The first thing to determine is whether the employee in question is exempt or non-exempt.

Determine the Regular Rate and Applicable Overtime Rate

The next step is to identify the employee’s regular rate of pay and the applicable overtime rate of pay. There are significant differences between federal and state overtime pay requirements.

California employers are subject to whichever of these requirements is more favorable to their employees:

The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) requires overtime pay only if an employee works more than 40 hours per week, regardless of the number of hours worked during any one day. (29 USC § 207(a)(1)). In California, however, employees in certain (but not all) industries and occupations are entitled to overtime pay after working either 40 hours per week or eight hours in one day (with double-time after 12 hours in one day), and for working more than six days in any workweek. (IWC Wage Orders, 1-2000 through 13-2000, 15-2000; 8 CCR §§ 11100-11130, 11150; Cal. Lab. Code §§ 551-552.)

Federal law calculates the employee’s “regular rate” either by dividing the total weekly salary by the number of hours the salary is intended to compensate (whether 35 hours per week or 50); or where the fluctuating workweek requirements are satisfied—including a clear understanding between employer and employee as to the salary methodology—by dividing the total weekly salary by the number of hours worked in the particular week, whatever their number.

Determine the Hours Worked

The last step is to determine the total number of hours worked.

Contact Akopyan Law Firm A.P.C. for Advice about Overtime Pay

Contact us to see why clients seek our help for all aspects of employment law. We are proud of our perfect five-star rating on Google and Yelp and are pleased to have recovered millions in damages for deserving clients. Our employee clients never have to worry about upfront fees, costly retainers, or hourly rates; we operate on a contingency basis. This means we take an agreed-upon percentage of what we recover. It’s just part of how we remain a law firm in Los Angeles. Contact us to learn more. We will settle your claim for overtime compensation.