According to a report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans work for an average of 34.5 hours a week. Those who work in mining and logging go beyond the norm, spending 45.9 hours of their lives working and away from the comfort of their homes. More Americans find themselves clocking longer hours and neglecting their well-being. This growing trend has placed the United States of America in the list of the most overworked nations in the world.
Although we live in a period of high economic surplus today, the marginalized continue to dive deeper into poverty. These conditions force people from lower socioeconomic classes to accept particularly demanding jobs without considering their benefits or compensation. The excessive workload found in such occupations makes for shorter off-hours so that employees could finish their assigned tasks.
Because of these scenarios, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) was enforced to make sure that every American from all walks of life get to enjoy a fair, nonabusive working environment and be paid what they are due. Failure to provide overtime pay is considered wage theft and is illegal in the state of California.
Fair Labor Standards Act on Overtime Pay
Becoming overworked takes a toll on your relationships, health, and ironically, your productivity. That is why the Department of Labor (DOL) is at constant work to ensure that people in the workforce are paid according to their efforts and workload. One of the many safeguards that the DOL enforces is the FLSA, which tackles minimum wage, overtime pay claims, recordkeeping, and child labor standards.
The FLSA stipulates that should an eligible employee work for more than 40 hours a week, all hours in excess should be paid at one and a half times more than one’s regular rate. This means that the law counts the cumulative work hours in a week instead of counting on a daily basis. Working for more than eight hours in a day does not automatically make your employer obligated to pay for overtime. You only get to avail of this additional compensation if your work exceeds 40 hours in a work week. This compensation also carries over when working on weekends or during holidays.
It is also important to clarify what constitutes as “hours worked.” One of the most debated subjects is counting travel time in “hours worked.” As a general rule, employers are not obliged to pay for the hours spent by an employee getting to and coming home from work. However, if you are called back to work, and you travel long distances to get to your workplace, the time spent going back may be considered part of your working hours.
On the other hand, there is more uncertainty with regards to time suffered or permitted to work because working remotely is becoming easier to do due to technological advances. This uncertainty is why the FLSA urges employers to set regulations which would keep employees from working during unscheduled time.
Rules of Overtime Pay in California
Overtime pay laws may vary from state to state. In California, the FLSA works hand-in-hand with section 510 of the California Labor Code to protect its employees. Section 510 states that if you work between eight and twelve hours in a day, you have the right to be credited one and a half of your regular wage. The same applies for hours that go beyond 40 hours in a week. Meanwhile, work spanning twelve hours or more and working for more than eight hours on your seventh consecutive day of work will warrant you double your hourly pay.
In the event that the federal and state laws do not coincide, the ruling should always be geared towards whichever interpretation would benefit the working party the most.
Who Can Claim Overtime Pay?
Overtime pay rules do not cover all types of employees. Exempt employees cannot claim overtime benefits because they are not paid by the hour. Managers or professionals, for example, enjoy a fixed salary that cannot be lower than twice the minimum wage in a state. The reason for this is that job positions that fall under the executive, administrative, and professional classifications require higher levels of critical thinking and independent judgment. Commissioned employees, union employees, outside salespersons, physicians, and truck drivers are some of the other exempt workers based on independent job-specific metrics.
Non-exempt employees are those entitled to overtime pay claims since they are paid by the hour and typically earn only a little over the minimum wage. Jobs involving manual labor fall under this category since workers are still in need of supervision.
How to Calculate Overtime Pay in California
The first thing you need to know when computing for your overtime pay is your regular rate since this is your primary basis when calculating for overtime pay. If you receive no other form of financial compensation, your regular rate is the amount you get paid per hour. As mentioned above, any excess from 40 hours of work in a week must be met with a multiplier equivalent of one and a half times your regular rate.
Other forms of overtime pay cannot be counted together with these calculations. It’s also important to note that “overtime pyramiding,” which is the stacking overtime rates on top of one another, is not acknowledged in California.
To correctly calculate your overtime pay by California’s standards, compute for your daily overtime pays using the appropriate multipliers. These should not be compounded into your weekly overtime rate. Next, subtract your daily overtime hours from the total number of hours worked. If the result is more than 40, use the time-and-a-half rate for the extra hours.
What to do if you are Denied Overtime Pay?
If your employer refuses to give you added financial compensation for working overtime, you can resolve the dispute informally through an extrajudicial settlement. This entails you talking to your superiors asking them to give you your well-deserved pay. However, this is highly unrecommended because your chances of succeeding are slim.
It is best that you bring your complaint to the right authorities by filing a lawsuit or pursuing a wage claim with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement. Moreover, if you encountered this problem before with a previous employer and was unresolved, you can sue on the grounds of Section 203 of the California Labor Code which states that all unmet compensations must be paid immediately upon employment termination.
Seek Legal Assistance from an Expert Wage and Hour Claims Lawyer
Getting underpaid affects a person’s well-being in more ways than just their economic stability. Workers with unfair compensations experience frequent physiological distress such as headaches and chest pain. They are also found to be more prone to stress and emotional disorders. That is why it is important to stand your ground when it comes to fighting for your rights.
However, going up against the very people who pay and give you work is a daunting task. Even if you have no doubts about what you truly deserve, it is often hard to find the courage to speak your mind when you are battling people above your station. And yet, this challenge is but a small hurdle compared to feeling disheartened after having your efforts unrecognized and go unrewarded.
Seek professional help with reputable law firms to help you build your case when filing for wage claims. Mesriani Law Group houses experienced wage and hour claims attorneys in Los Angeles who can help you get favorable settlements and protect you from the potential occurrence of power-plays and ungranted compensations. Hire a lawyer from Mesriani Law Group and get the expert advice you need to secure your claims.