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Understanding overtime laws in California for hourly workers

Not everyone receives overtime pay, which can make employment laws confusing to some. People may simply assume that they aren't entitled to overtime pay for their work. In reality, unless you are a salaried worker, your employer should be paying you at least time and a half for any time over 40 hours that you've worked in any given pay period.

A pay period doesn't necessarily start on Monday or end on Friday, either. Your employer can choose what day of the week and time of the day to start your pay period. However, it must stay the same from week to week and include seven consecutive days back-to-back. If you are concerned about overtime issues, ask your employer about the days and times for your work week. Knowing that can help you accurately track how many hours you have worked and if they total up to be more than 40.

Employers may get tricky to avoid overtime

Does your boss require you to clock out and continue working, or to wait to clock in when you first arrive at work? Do you believe that the time clock records get adjusted to remove your overtime? Both of these are shockingly common and highly illegal practices. Your employer cannot force you to work for free or demand that you put in extra time without pay to maintain your job.

Similarly, altering your employment records to avoid paying overtime is also illegal. When you believe that your employer is breaking the law to avoid paying you the overtime you are due, you need to start keeping careful records. Print your time clock records, or photograph your time in and out each day to verify against your final records and pay stub. Keep notes with the dates and times that you get asked to work while off the clock.

Legal action is likely your best option

Chances are that your manager or employer already knows that denying you overtime is illegal. You can try to address it with your boss or human resources, but your complaints may fall on deaf ears. Worse, you could end up subject to disciplinary action or even get fired for reporting this violation. Because companies have a financial incentive to continue these illegal and abusive practices, only a financial penalty will change how they choose to do business.

If you're dealing with it, there's a strong chance that other current or former employees have also been subject to withholding of earned overtime pay. The more people you have who are willing to come forward and speak out, the better your chances of convincing the courts that your employer's actions were intentional and ongoing. Holding your employer responsible not only helps you recover the wages you are owed but also ensures that others won't get mistreated the same way in the future.

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