Reminder: Employers Cannot Force Unpaid Overtime

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Reminder: Employers Cannot Force Unpaid Overtime

With the Covid-19 social distancing restrictions being put in to place, many grocery stores, wholesalers, pharmacies, and retail outlets have seen an uptick in product demand.  That’s probably the nicest way of stating that there are a ton of people panic buying seemingly random things.  The extra crush of customers, combined with potential worker illness, could lead to some unplanned staffing shortages and extended hours.  And then there are the healthcare workers on the front lines of the battle against the disease working extended shifts to help those affected by the outbreak.

The Law Offices of Scott Warmuth wants to remind workers that it is against the law to force employees to work unpaid overtime.  Nonexempt employees are guaranteed overtime pay under certain circumstances.

  • They work in excess of eight hours in one workday
  • They work in excess of 40 hours in one workweek
  • They work seven days in one workweek

Under California law, any work performed under overtime rules must be paid at time and a half, or 150 percent of normal wages.  Certain work qualifies for double time, or 200 percent of normal wages, specifically:

  • Any hours worked in excess of 12 hours in one workday
  • Any hours worked in excess of eight hours on the seventh consecutive workday

For example, if a worker is on the job for 14 hours in one day, he or she is entitled to eight hours of regular pay, four hours of time and a half pay, and two hours of double time pay.  Any employer that does not provide this level of compensation for overtime work is violating the law.

Some unscrupulous employers may try to avoid paying overtime by telling workers to clock out after working eight hours, but to continue working despite being off the clock.  They may also claim, after requiring you to work overtime, that the overtime was unauthorized and therefore doesn’t have to be paid.  Taking either of these actions as a business is illegal, and California law requires paying overtime, regardless of authorization.  Employers are legally allowed to require overtime but are not allowed to take any action to avoid paying you for your work.

It must be noted that some healthcare workers in California will have slightly different rules regarding overtime, though it’s still illegal for any employer to require working unpaid overtime.  Many healthcare workers do not earn overtime after eight hours of work in a single day, however the double time after 12 hours of work and time and a half after 40 hours in a workweek rules still apply.

To see other frequently asked questions about overtime law, visit California’s Department of Industrial Relations department website here.

If you or your coworkers have been forced to work unpaid overtime, the Law Offices of Scott Warmuth can help you seek the wages rightfully owed to you.  Call us today at 888-517-9888 to receive a free consultation.

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