Occasionally, business demands may require employees to work more than 40 hours per week. Questions often arise as to whether this practice of “mandatory overtime” is legal.
In short, the answer is “Yes.” However, there are various circumstances and legal provisions that need to be taken into consideration.
Overtime pay: The fundamentals
Employers may ask their employees to work over the standard 40 hour week. Nonetheless, if the employee is considered a “non-exempt” worker, certain conditions apply. Federal law requires that California workers be paid 1.5 times their regular pay rate for all hours worked over 40 hours per week. Consequently, as long as an employer is willing to pay this amount, they are legally entitled to ask employees to work beyond 40 hours.
The exempt worker
An exception to this rule lies with the exempt worker. Exempt workers are typically on a set yearly salary for the tasks they carry out. As a result, they are generally not subject to the same limitations as non-exempt employees.
Ensuring fair employment practices
The law in relation to overtime pay is intended to ensure that the power dynamic between employers and employees remains equitable. When an employer makes their non-exempt staff work more than 40 hours without paying the extra amount as required by law, they may be committing wage theft. Wage theft is in violation of the law and could result in a legal claim.
As an employer, it is in your best interest to understand the law relating to overtime pay. If you have been accused of violating the law, it is important to know that you have legal rights and protections.