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California Unpaid Wages in 2022: What's Back Pay and Shift Pay?

Updated: Nov 9

Learn About Unpaid Wage Claims In California, And How To Find The Best California Employment Lawyer To File A Wage Theft Claim

When you consider filing a wage and hour claim, it's best that you understand the specifics of wage as it pertains to California Employment Law.


Back Pay and Shift Pay are common terminologies used in unpaid wage claims. Of course, you can always hire the best and most reputable Los Angeles Employment Lawyer to help you understand the nitty-gritty aspects of your case.


What is considered back pay in California?


Employees may complete their work but not receive the compensation they are entitled to. As a result, the employer will be forced to compensate for the lost time. The amount of money owed to an employee but not paid by the employer is known as back-time pay.


This can include raises, overtime, bonuses, and wages that an employee is entitled to but did not earn in the past. Back pay in California is equivalent to unpaid wage, except that back pay is normally measured after the employer has been found to have broken any wage or hour rules.


For example, if the employer measured the salary incorrectly, the employee could have been underpaid for previous jobs. The California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) will recalculate the amount the employee was entitled to, and the employee will be told that he or she may obtain back time.


The employee may also become aware of the error and request back pay. Back pay could be calculated by multiplying the employee's gross unpaid hours by the hourly wage. Consider one of our prescreened Los Angeles Employment Lawyers in your California Attorney Search.


In California, back pay or back time refers to wage and hour law violations involving an incorrect or under-calculation of the amount owed to an employee. This may entail:

  • Food and rest breaks are not compensated.

  • Infractions of the overtime rule

  • Violations of the minimum wage

  • Misclassification as exempt

  • Sick leave that is not compensated

  • Reimbursements that have not been received

  • H2 deductions on the job that aren't legal

  • Job is done "off the clock"

Understanding How Much Money Is Owed in Penalties, Interest, and Back Pay in California


The amount due for back wages and back pay varies depending on the employer's conduct and violation. If the back pay was due to a mistake and there was no deliberate misconduct, you might be entitled to the following:

  • Wages that have not been received as a result of a miscalculation

  • Unpaid salaries are subject to a yearly interest rate of up to ten percent.

The employer could be liable for fines and damages for labor code breaches resulting in back pay and unpaid wages. In this scenario, back time payment may include:

  • Wages that have not been received as a result of a miscalculation

  • Unpaid salaries are subject to a yearly interest rate of up to ten percent.

  • Your employer may owe you one hour's wages for each break you missed if you did not get rest or meal breaks

  • Court expenses and legal fees

If your employer knowingly underpaid you and the errors were not due to a good-faith mistake, you might be entitled to double damages.


Back Pay for Overtime In California


California has an overtime standard that allows employers to pay qualified workers for hours worked more than the usual eight in a day. Even if overtime was not allowed in the first place, the state mandates that it be charged.


In California, the employer or boss has a right to know how many hours the employee works. They are also responsible for informing their employees when their work hours are up. As a result, employers are responsible for unpaid overtime hours.


Employees are entitled to extra pay if they work for more than 40 hours a week. They are also often entitled to a time-and-a-half pay if they work for seven days straight during a workweek. The salary should include the first eight hours of work on the seventh day.


As a result, if your employer fails to compensate or count you for extra hours worked, your back pay bonus will include time and a half of your regular hourly rate for each hour worked overtime. If an employee works for more than eight hours for the seventh day in a row (or more than 12 hours in one day), they might be entitled to double pay.


Not all employees are eligible for back pay for overtime worked. Non-exempt hourly employees are permitted, but other types of workers are not. White-collar workers who do technical, high-level administrative, and managerial work are the most common exemptions.

This means that you are entitled to overtime pay unless the employer can prove you qualify for one of these exemptions.


Your employer could owe you the difference between what you should have been paid and what you were actually paid if you were not paid for overtime hours. In addition to your regular salary, you can earn half of your hourly wage in time-and-a-half back pay. If your daily rate is $12 an hour, you can earn $18 in back pay. You'll be paying $24 per hour if you work double time.


Claims for Minimum Wage in California


If your employer couldn't pay you the minimum wage for each work hour, you might be entitled to liquidated damages. Liquidated damages are intended to compensate for injuries that are difficult to quantify. According to California law, your employer's action or omission in failing to pay the minimum wage has caused you to incur additional damages.


You are entitled to a liquidated list of damages equal to the sum of missed income if you were not paid at least the applicable minimum wage for the hours worked. For example, if you were legally entitled to $16 per hour but were only paid $13 per hour, you would be entitled to $3 in back pay for each hour worked.


If you worked 85 hours in a pay period, your employer would owe you $170 in liquidated damages plus $170 in unpaid wage.


Rest Periods and Missed Meals


Employers in California are required by law to give their workers a paid 10-minute break for every hour worked and an unpaid 30-minute meal break after 5 hours. For workers who work more than 10 hours, another unpaid 30-minute meal break should be given.


As a result, an employee is owed one hour of pay at their regular rate for each workday, during which their employer fails to include a meal break. This limit also applies to rest periods. For example, if you work an 8-hour shift without meal or rest breaks, you might be entitled to two hours of overtime, which includes one hour for missed rest breaks and one hour for missed meal breaks.


Violations of Wage Statements in California


Employers in California are expected to provide information to their employees about their paychecks, such as the hours worked, the hourly rate, taxes, gross pay, and so on. This detail is normally found on the pay stub of the employee.


As a result, you could be entitled to wage statement penalties if your employer-provided incorrect information or completely refused to provide the necessary information. Your employer will be liable for $50 for the first breach of the wage statement and $100 for each subsequent violation.


Penalties for Waiting Time in California


If you're dismissed from a job in California, you have the right to collect your final salary at the time of termination. If you left and gave at least 72 hours' notice, you can collect your last paycheck immediately.


If you leave without providing 72 hours' notice, your employer has 72 hours to provide your last paycheck. Pay for all unused, accumulated sick days and reimbursement for all hours worked must be included in the final check. If your check arrives later than required by law or does not contain all your owed salaries, you might be subject to waiting penalties.

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Any day your employer withholds your salary, you are entitled to a full day's pay at your normal pace. For example, if your employer is 10 days late with your paycheck and you receive $80 a day, you might be entitled to $800 in waiting time penalties from your employer.


When to calculate back pay in California?


When determining the amount of back pay you are due and the amount you can expect to earn, there are a few things to bear in mind. One factor to remember is that employers in California are forced to compensate their workers' interest on salaries that they have refused to pay.


Although the DLSE will measure the total back pay and interest, it will still be limited to the state cap of 10%. Another consideration is the statute of limitations in California for cases of unpaid or underpaid wages. If you expect back pay, you typically have three (3) years to make a wage claim or file a lawsuit.


Are California employees entitled to Back Pay?


Under California's wage and hour laws, employees are classified as excluded or non-exempt. Employees who are not exempted are still entitled to back pay, whether they are hourly or salaried.


They include people who work in scientific, vocational, mechanical, clerical, or similar jobs, regardless of whether the payment is on commission, by piece, time/hours worked, or any other rate.


Exempt workers could be exempt from overtime and lunch break rules. Independent contractors, white-collar jobs, and commission-based employees can all fall into this category.


Contractors in California


An independent contractor is an employee who works for another person in California. An independent contractor is a worker paid a set amount for a particular product, but he or she maintains the power of how the work is performed.


Even if the worker employed is an independent contractor, the worker would still be considered an employee if the arrangement with the individual who has ordered the services is more of an employer-employee relationship. In this situation, the worker will be safe as an employee under California labor, wage/hour, and lunch break laws.


White-Collar Workers


Individuals who normally serve in technical, managerial, executive, or administrative work are classified as white-collar work/jobs. To be considered an exempt white-collar worker in California, a worker must meet certain criteria. These are as follows:


Taking Legal Action Against an Employer for Unpaid Wages


Suppose your employer has broken California employment laws. In that case, you can file a compensation claim with the California Labor Commissioner's Office or file a case in court to recover back pay, interest, and fines. Employer lawsuits for wage and hour violations in California can include:

  • Employees are misclassified as self-employed

  • Overtime bonus is not paid

  • Failure to have adequate rest periods

  • Meal breaks are not being given

  • Wage payments are la