Can salaried workers earn overtime in California?
Employees who are ineligible for overtime in California are called “exempt” employees, or sometimes “salaried employees.” Salary is paid in a fixed amount for the week, every other week, or twice a month, regardless of the actual hours worked. Employees covered under overtime laws are referred to as “non-exempt” employees. Their pay varies depending on the number of hours, and they also get overtime.
When it comes to determining an employee’s exempt or non-exempt status, there are several considerations. One of these factors is whether an employee is paid a salary. An employee who is paid hourly is automatically considered a non-exempt employee. However, a salaried employee may actually be non-exempt if they are paid less than two times the state minimum wage for full-time employment.
A salaried employee may also be non-exempt if their job duties fall outside the California requirements for exemption—even if the employee’s salary meets the minimum amount. Most exempt employees all fall within three categories; employees whose job descriptions fall outside these categories are exempt:
- Executive employees
- Administrative employees
- Professional employees
Below is a little more about each of these classifications:
Executive Employees: Workers who spend more than half their time performing any of the following may be considered an exempt executive employee:
- Managing a business, or a major department of a business;
- Directing the work of at least two other employees;
- Participating in hiring and firing decisions; and
- Using their independent discretion in deciding how to do their job.
Administrative Employees: Workers who perform office work or other non-manual work directly related to the management of a business may be exempt, provided they routinely use independent judgment when performing their job. This category is more of a grey area than the executive and professional exemption.
Professional Employees: Workers may be a professional employee if they are among the small group of “recognized professionals” or work in a “learned or artistic profession.” Examples of recognized professionals include:
If you suspect you were misclassified as exempt you may be owed up to four years of back overtime, missed meal and rest breaks, and substantial penalties under California law. A skilled employment attorney can help you recover the maximum damages allowed under the law.
Other Unpaid Wage & Overtime FAQs:
- Am I entitled to meal breaks and rest breaks if I am working remotely?
- Are computer programmers and tech workers exempt from overtime?
- Can an employer disclose my immigration status if I file a claim for unpaid wages?
- Can I get fired for claiming overtime pay?
- Can my employer change my commission plan or withhold commissions?
- Can my employer fire me for filing a wage claim?
- Can salaried workers earn overtime in California?
- Do I still get overtime if I am a commissioned salesperson?
- Does my employer have to pay me for off-the-clock work?
- Does my employer have to reimburse me for work expenses?
- How can a lawyer help with my claim for unpaid wages?
- How can I protect myself from wage theft?
- How can I tell if I am an independent contractor?
- How do I file a claim for unpaid wages?
- How do I know if I am entitled to overtime pay?
- How do I know if my employer needs to pay me overtime?
- How is overtime pay calculated in California?
- How much time do I have to file a wage claim in California?
- How much time do I have to file an overtime claim?
- If I receive a salary, am I exempt from overtime?
- If my employment is terminated, is my employer still required to pay me my commissions?
- Is my employer allowed to deduct anything from my paycheck?
- Is my employer allowed to deduct tips from my paycheck?
- Is my employer allowed to withhold my final wages after firing me?
- Is my employer required to pay for my meal break and rest breaks?
- My employer is forcing me to work through meal breaks. What should I do?
- What are some examples of wage theft?
- What are the main differences between an independent contractor and an employee?
- What is an exempt and non-exempt employee?
- What is the minimum wage in California?
- What should I do if I suspect my employer is withholding wages?
- What should I do if my boss asks me to work off the clock?
- What types of damages can I get in a wage claim against my employer?