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What are the pay requirements for 12-hour shifts?

To help manage labor, ease scheduling headaches or to appease the needs of workers, some employers in California schedule 12-hour shifts. Employees need to understand what the rules are in regard to overtime, as they may not be eligible depending on the occupation or type of work. Working long shifts can also be detrimental in certain aspects, so workers should understand the risks before agreeing to 12-hour work days.

The State of California Department of Industrial Relations reports that overtime pay of one and one-half times the regular hourly rate must be paid for hours worked over eight hours in a day or 40 in a week. However, there are a number of exceptions that affect employees of different classifications. For example, healthcare employees may work up to 12 hours a day and not be subject to overtime. Anything over 12 hours is subject to double the regular rate. Daily overtime also does not apply at all for those in the following occupations:

  • Personal attendants
  • Camp counselors
  • Ambulance drivers
  • Resident managers

Even when overtime pay is not required for 12-hour shifts, some employees prefer them to typical eight-hour ones for a number of reasons including fewer work days per week, fewer commutes, childcare ease and greater flexibility. However, Rasmussen College warns of some of the downfalls of these longer shifts. These include:

  • Greater burnout
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Slower reaction times
  • More mistakes at work
  • Client or patient dissatisfaction
  • Negative health impacts

12-hour shifts can work well for many employees, whether they appreciate the flexibility or are able to take advantage of overtime pay. However, those who work them regularly should make sure to take care of themselves so the long hours do not negatively affect them and their family.


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