Many people oversimplify overtime laws. Both Federal and California state overtime laws have more nuances than the average person realizes. For example, there are many circumstances beyond just working more than 40 hours in one week that could give rise to someone receiving overtime wages.
In general, hourly workers are the ones who most commonly request overtime pay. A worker who can’t rely on the same wages or schedule every week can at least depend on receiving 150% of their usual wages when their employer needs them to put in more hours than usual. However, the assumption that only hourly workers qualify for overtime is an oversimplification.
The reason that certain workers who receive a salary don’t receive overtime and often end up putting in more hours is that their salary is high enough to make them exempt from overtime requirements. Those who don’t make particularly competitive pay as salaried workers might also qualify for overtime compensation.
What is the exemption cutoff for salaried workers?
Once a worker is exempt from overtime requirements, their employer can require extra hours of work without offering additional compensation. However, when the salary offered is a low salary, workers expected to put in extra hours can potentially demand overtime wages.
Currently, the federal cut-off for an exempt salary is $35,568. That is an annual salary. That equates to roughly $684 per week in your paycheck. If your employer doesn’t pay you more than that and demands that you work over 40 hours in a week, you have the right to ask for overtime compensation for all of those extra hours.
In fact, you shouldn’t have to ask. They should automatically compensate you appropriately when you qualify for overtime.
What if your employer refuses to compensate you?
Perhaps you believe that salaried workers never qualify for overtime because that is what your employer told you. They may refuse to acknowledge the work when you confront them and they double down on their insistence that they don’t have to pay you overtime.
In such a situation, you may need to bring a wage claim against the company. In fact, you may need to consider working together with some of your co-workers to bring such a claim so that the business learns a lesson about how it should treat its labor.