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Common Myths about Overtime in California


Employment law in California can be steeped in myth among the general public, especially when it comes to how employees should be compensated for overtime. As a consequence, not every is fully aware of their right to earn overtime. Some may even believe incorrect myths about it to the extent that they are owed unpaid overtime compensation and aren’t even aware of it!

Read some of these myths below for clarification about how overtime works in California.

Myth 1: Overtime Is Only Earned When an Employee Works 40+ Hours Per Week

This “myth” isn’t entirely untrue. It’s correct under the Fair Labor Standards Act, but California has its own rules for overtime compensation.

In most cases, employees begin earning overtime as soon as they begin working for more than eight hours in a day. This means that an employee can theoretically work 40 hours per week and still earn some overtime pay.

Myth 2: Earning a Salary Means You Aren’t Entitled to Overtime Pay

Contrary to what many people believe, earning a salary and earning overtime pay aren’t mutually exclusive. A salary is an agreement between you and your employer that you will be paid at least a certain sum of money in total annual earnings. This doesn’t negate the possibility of earning overtime if you otherwise qualify for it.

Myth 3: White-Collar Jobs Are Exempt from Overtime Pay

Lots of people associate overtime pay with unskilled hourly labor, like working in a retail or food service establishment. While it’s true that these types of positions are eligible for overtime pay, so too are many “white-collar” office jobs.

California has very strict requirements about who is and isn’t eligible to earn overtime. For example, a white-collar worker must make a salary of at least $58,240 per year to be exempt from California’s overtime laws.

Myth 4: Travel Time Doesn’t Count Toward Overtime Hours

Another common myth people believe is that employees aren’t on-the-clock when they’re traveling between worksites. While it’s true that an employee’s commute to work isn’t on the clock, any traveling they do until they’re relieved of their work duties for the day does count.

This means that if an employee spends four hours at one work site before traveling an hour to spend another four hours at another worksite, they should be compensated for one hour overtime (remember: overtime in California begins after the eighth hour in a single workday!).

Myth 5: Managers Are Exempt from Overtime

If an employee is promoted to a management position or is otherwise in charge of supervising other employees, he or she may still be entitled to earn overtime pay. Titles such as “manager” or “supervisor” don’t necessarily confer overtime-exempt status.

If a manager isn’t spending at least 50% of their time on managerial tasks or spending more than 50% of their time on tasks that employees under them are doing, they may not be exempt from overtime. Additionally, these managers must be paid the minimum salary requirement to be considered exempt from overtime.

Do You Need Legal Assistance?

If you believe that you are owed unpaid overtime wages, reach out to K2 Employment Law Group for help. Our attorneys are fierce advocates for our clients and can help you recover the compensation you need.

For more information about how we can help, reach out to us online today!