How do I know if my employer needs to pay me overtime?
Not every employee is entitled to overtime pay. “Exempt” employees are employees to whom California wage and hour laws, like overtime laws, do not apply. Determining whether an employee is exempt is not always easy. Courts will look to a variety of factors, including the following:
- Hourly or salaried?
An employee can only be considered exempt if they are paid a salary. However, just because an employee receives a salary does not necessarily mean that they are properly classified as exempt.
- How much do they make?
California employment laws set forth minimum salary requirements. Typically, an employee must receive a minimum monthly salary of at least twice the state’s minimum wage.
- What do they do?
The most complex factor when determining whether an employee is exempt relates to their job duties. To be considered exempt, an employee must spend at least half their time performing exempt job duties.
Many categories of work are exempt from overtime in California. The most common exemptions are:
Executive Exemption: Employees who have real managerial duties – including hiring, firing and performance review responsibilities for more than one other employee – are exempt. However, people given the title of “manager” but not the real executive duties that go with the title, have been able to claim unpaid overtime.
Administrative Exemption: Some white-collar employees such as high-level analysts, brand managers or stockbrokers may be exempt if they spend over half their time on exempt duties.
Professional Exemption: Professionals with a high-level degree such as doctors, lawyers, teachers, certified public accountants, architects and engineers are most likely exempt.
Even some highly-paid employees such as certain I.T. professionals and inside salespersons may be owed overtime (including overtime on sales commissions).
Unfortunately, it is common for employees to run into problems when collecting the overtime pay, they are entitled to. Most often, employers claim that an employee is exempt, when that is not the case. Workers who feel they are owed overtime pay should reach out to a Bay Area unpaid wages attorney for assistance.