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Your employer cannot require you to work overtime without pay

Many people with jobs in California get paid on an hourly basis. Instead of receiving a salary, they get paid for each hour they work for their employer. This system works well for many positions, companies and workers. However, some employers choose to abuse or violate the law when it comes to the rights of hourly workers.

Federal law is very clear about the need to pay overtime wages. Some employers will do just about anything that they can think of to avoid paying those higher wages to workers. If your employer is illegally refusing to pay you overtime wages, you may need to take legal action to stand up for your rights and obtain the compensation you deserve for the work that you perform.

Overtime pay is a right for all hourly workers

Under federal employment law, any hourly employee who works more than 40 hours in a given pay period is entitled to at least time-and-a-half compensation for every hour worked over 40. This law helps prevent employers from abusively overworking staff. It also ensures better compensation for those who work extra hours.

Generally speaking, your employer saves money by reducing the number of people on staff. Training workers, paying taxes on their labor and providing benefits can become expensive. It often makes better financial sense to have existing workers put in a few extra hours or an extra shift instead of expanding the workforce. However, employers must do right by their employees by paying a fair overtime wage for hours over 40 in a given work week.

Learn when your work weeks starts and ends

Some people assume that their work week ends on Friday, especially if they work business days and receive pay checks or direct deposit payments on Fridays. However, your employer actually has the right to start and end your work week at any time of day and day of the week, so long as it is consistent.

Your work week could start on Tuesday or on midnight on a Saturday. A work week is any period of 168 hours, which is seven consecutive days. Your employer can use different work weeks for different positions within the company. However, your employer cannot repeatedly change when the work week starts and ends to avoid the obligation to pay overtime wages to staff.

How employers avoid overtime costs

Some companies will simply demand that workers not work beyond 40 hours and will withhold overtime wages unless employees have written permission for overtime from management. That, thankfully, is not a violation of worker rights or the law.

Some companies choose fewer legal options. They may ask workers to clock out to avoid overtime but then return to work, often without any compensation for that time at all. Others could manipulate time clock records to eliminate overtime. If you have experienced either of these practices, you should look into your legal options for recovering your unpaid overtime wages.

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