Can Employers in California Require Employees to Work Overtime Hours?

team of employees working overtime California employees who work more than 40 hours in a single week or more than six days in a row must receive overtime pay. Working overtime hours is often up to the employee, but sometimes employers require their employees to work overtime.

Employers may mandate overtime due to ongoing worker shortages. When they do this, employees may wonder whether it is legal. The short answer is yes, but there are some regulations employers must follow.

Are you working overtime but not receiving compensation for those hours? Call our wage and hour lawyers in Sacramento today. We offer a free consultation to discuss your legal options. There are also no upfront fees.

What Rules Must Employers Follow When Mandating Overtime?

Employers who mandate overtime hours must follow certain regulations. Most importantly, any non-exempt employee must receive overtime pay if he or she works more than:

  • 40 hours in a single workweek
  • Seven consecutive days
  • More than 12 hours in a single day

Overtime pay is one-and-a-half times the regular rate of pay.

Rules about rest and meal breaks still apply during overtime hours. Some of these rules include:

  • For every five hours of work, employees are entitled to at least one unpaid 30-minute meal break. This means employees who work more than twelve hours in a workday must receive at least one hour for an unpaid meal break.
  • Paid rest breaks are mandatory in California. For every three and a half hours of work, employees can take a 10-minute rest break.

Employers should account for breaks and overtime pay if they are going to require employees to work overtime hours.

When is it Illegal to Fire an Employee Who Refuses to Work Overtime?

Employees usually cannot refuse to work overtime hours. Employees who do refuse can get disciplined by their employer. This includes termination. There are some exceptions to this, though.

Your employer cannot fire you for refusing to work overtime if:

  • Working overtime breaches a contract
  • Working overtime affects your health and safety
  • You have a family emergency protected under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
  • You clocked 72 hours or more in the previous workweek

Employers are also required to modify an employee’s scheduled overtime if he or she is protected by the Rehabilitation Act or Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

How Does Mandatory Overtime Affect Exempt Employees?

Employees who are exempt from overtime laws may wonder how they are affected by mandatory overtime. The rules regarding exempt employees and mandatory overtime are complex.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not limit work hours. It only requires employers to compensate extra hours. This means employers can mandate overtime for exempt employees.

If you are an exempt employee, your employer can mandate overtime work and refuse to compensate those extra hours. Some employers take advantage of this by misclassifying employees as exempt.

Exempt employees must meet certain criteria, though. If your employer misclassifies you, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible.

Even if you are unsure about your exempt status, call us. The consultation is free, so there is no risk to speak to a legal expert.

Why Do Employers Mandate Overtime?

Worker shortages continue disrupting many workplaces. This results in more employers requiring employees to work overtime.

Poor project management also plays a factor. A company may need to meet tight deadlines, so longer work hours may be expected.

Police officers, firefighters and others who work in emergency services may be required to work overtime hours.

Budget constraints might also keep a company from hiring enough help to avoid extra hours.

What Can Employers Do To Avoid Mandating Overtime?

Employers should make their overtime policies clear. This way employees can know what to expect.

Effective planning and communication might also help keep staff on track, especially for projects with tight deadlines.

Companies should also consider hiring part-time or temporary employees. Seasonal workers could help out during the busiest months of the year.

It is important to remember that these types of employees are also eligible for overtime pay if they exceed 40 hours a week.

Is Your Job Compensating You For Extra Hours? Call Us Today

If your employer is requiring you to work overtime hours, you must receive appropriate compensation for that time. If you are an exempt employee who is required to work more than 40 hours regularly, and you are not getting compensated, our attorneys can review your exempt status to see if you have been misclassified.

We offer a free consultation to discuss your situation. There are also no upfront fees while we work on your case.

Call 916-777-7777 today.