What Security Guards Should Know About Wage and Overtime Laws in California

Man and woman security guards According to the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services in California, a security guard is employed by licensed Private Patrol Operators or private security employers to protect persons or property or prevent theft.

These individuals have the same rights as other employees to receive compensation for all hours worked. If you are a security guard whose employer violated state or federal wage and hour laws, you have the right to pursue compensation. Call our Sacramento wage and hour lawyers today to discuss your claim during a free and confidential consultation.

Below, we discuss some important wage and hour laws security guards should know about.

What Are the Labor Laws for Security Guards in California?

Security guards are covered by the same wage and hour laws as other employees. This means they must be compensated for all the hours worked and receive one and a half times their regular rate of pay for any overtime.

California considers the following to be overtime:

  • Anything over 40 hours in a five-day workweek
  • Anything over 12 hours in a single workday
  • The first eight hours on the seventh consecutive workday

Security guards are also entitled to one additional hour of pay if they are required to do either of the following:

  • Monitor devices (cellphones, radios, surveillance cameras) while on a meal break
  • Remain on premises during a meal break (also known as an “on-duty” meal break)

Overtime compensation must be calculated on a workweek basis. The hours cannot be averaged over a two-week period. This means that if the security guard works more than 40 hours in one week, he or she cannot be told to work less than 40 hours for the second week so the employer can avoid overtime.

If the security guard must take a rest break, in accordance with California laws, and the security guard is required to do certain things on the break, the security guard is eligible for an additional paid hour.

This means security guards who routinely work through breaks should be getting paid for 10 hours of work in a day (if they work an eight-hour shift).

Another wage law to keep in mind is that employers cannot pay shift hours instead of hours worked. Employers are required to maintain accurate worksheets and pay each employee according to said timesheet. For example, your employer cannot pay you for a 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. shift if you clocked in at 9:45 a.m. and clocked out at 7:15 p.m. The additional 30 minutes you worked should also be compensated.

Should Travel Time Between Sites Be Compensated?

Your employer is not legally required to pay for the time it takes you to get to a work site. However, if you are scheduled to work at multiple sites in a single shift, the drive time between sites should be paid by your employer.

In some instances, your employer may be required to pay your mileage if you are scheduled to work at a job site where you are not usually scheduled to work, and that site is out of the way for you. For example, if you normally work at a site in Sacramento but are asked by your employer to work a shift in San Francisco, you may be eligible for compensation for the mileage as well as lodging and meals. However, each situation needs to be analyzed on its own, so it may be in your best interest to speak to an attorney if you think you are owed wages for offsite work.

Are Security Guards Eligible for Overtime When Working at Different Sites in One Workweek?

Some employers try to get away with not paying their security guards overtime wages by claiming they do not qualify for overtime because they worked at a different site for one or two days out of the week.

This is false and illegal. Even if you worked at a different site every day of the week, you are eligible for overtime pay if you meet the criteria for overtime.

Can an Employer Refuse to Pay for Pre- and Post-Shift Prep Time?

Security guards usually have a lot to do before settling in for a shift. These tasks may include the following:

  • Attending meetings
  • Receiving instructions
  • Patrolling a perimeter
  • Getting briefed on the day’s events

Employers are legally required to pay for this time. The same applies at the end of a security guard’s shift when he or she is briefing the person who is relieving him or her.

Have Questions About Your Rights? Call Us Today

If you are a security guard who suspects your employer is not paying the wages you are owed, call our knowledgeable attorneys today.

We offer a free and confidential consultation to discuss what legal options may be available. There are no upfront fees for our services if we validate your claim.

Confidential consultation. Call us today at 916-777-7777.