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Beware of These Tricks Employers Use to Underpay Employees


For many employees, overtime can be a great opportunity to take home a little more pay than usual – as long as they actually get paid. Unfortunately, though, employers have various means at their disposal to squeeze overtime work out of employees without paying them for it.

In California, employees earn overtime for each hour worked beyond eight in a day or 40 in a week. Overtime pay is calculated at a rate of 1.5 an employee’s regular pay rate, which means any time you work that your employer isn’t counting on the clock could be costing you a lot more than you realize.

Four Common Ways Employers Avoid Paying Overtime Wages

When an employee is eligible to earn overtime pay, failing to compensate them accordingly is illegal. If any of these common ways employers avoid paying overtime feels similar to your experience at work, you may want to consult with an employment lawyer who can help you fight for the compensation you deserve.

1. Requiring Any Work ‘Off the Clock’

The most common way employers avoid paying employees overtime is by requiring that they work before or after their scheduled shifts. Any work duties that involve opening an establishment, preparing for the day, or closing up and concluding the day’s activities are all labor that should be compensated accordingly.

If, for example, your shift begins at 8 a.m. but your employer requires that you arrive 10 minutes early to prepare for the day, you should be paid for those 10 minutes in addition to your scheduled shift.

2. Misclassifying Employees

Another common way of denying employees overtime pay is by misclassifying them as independent contractors or overtime-exempt employees. When an employer misclassifies a worker as an independent contractor, the worker is deprived of benefits and protections that come with being an employee – including overtime pay. Likewise, when an employer misclassifies an employee as overtime-exempt, they are not entitled to receive overtime pay for any hours worked over eight in a day or 40 each week.

3. Providing Comp Time

Another common way employers avoid paying overtime is by offering employees comp time off equivalent to the overtime hours they worked. This might sound like a fair deal, but it actually violates employment laws.

California law requires that employers pay overtime when an employee works more than eight hours in a day, which is in addition to the federal requirement that employees earn overtime when they work more than 40 hours in a week.

This means that an employer who allows an employee to take a day off after a double shift without paying the employee overtime for the double shift may have committed an overtime violation.

4. Averaging Work Hours

A less common way an employer might try to avoid overtime pay obligations is by averaging an employee’s work hours during each payroll period. If an employee worked 12 hours one day, the employer might try to schedule them for four hours less during the pay period to “average out” their hours.

Again, because of California’s unique overtime pay requirements, a tactic such as this shouldn’t go unchallenged by employees.

Is Your Employer Not Paying You What You’re Owed?

K2 Employment Law is dedicated to helping employees fight overtime violations. We understand that the process of filing a claim can be complex, so our team of experienced attorneys and legal professionals is here to help every step of the way.

Our team will review your case in order to determine if you have been denied proper compensation for overtime work. We can also assist you in filing a complaint with the Department of Labor or other relevant agency, as well as represent you in court if necessary. In addition, we can negotiate with employers on behalf of our clients to ensure that fair wages are paid, and overtime violations are corrected.

If you believe that your rights were violated, don't hesitate to contact K2 Employment Law for a free consultation.