Is Working Off The Clock Illegal In California?

Updated: Apr 21

Learn About The Legality Of Working Of The Clock In California

California's wage and hour laws are very specific. Therefore, any violation of your employer can become viable grounds to file employment claims. Working "off the clock" is very different from working overtime. Not knowing the difference could lead to unknowingly becoming a victim of wage theft.


So, let's talk about overtime, working off the clock, and California Wage and Hour Law, as they are often handled by our prescreened California Labor and Employment Attorneys.


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What Is Overtime?


Non-exempt employees are entitled to overtime pay under the California Labor Code. Overtime is defined by California Labor Code 510 as when an employee works:

  • More than 40 hours per week

  • Workdays of more than 8 hours

  • If an employee works more than 12 hours a day, the employer must pay double the standard rate for the time worked beyond 12 hours.

  • If an employee works seven days in a row during the same workweek, all hours performed on the seventh day are considered overtime.

  • If the employee works more than 8 hours on the seventh day, all hours worked more than 8 should be compensated at twice the standard rate.

The Fair Labor Standards Act governs overtime pay in the United States. Employers in California, on the other hand, must adhere to the state's labor laws.


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The fundamental distinction between federal and California overtime laws is that federal law only requires overtime pay for hours employee worked over 40 in a week, whereas California law mandates overtime pay for all hours employee worked over 8 in a day.

That said, if you've ever had concerns and your employer has made potential violations, contact a California Employment Lawyer immediately. A California Employment Attorney will know their way around the law and advice you on the best move to take.


How Is Working Off The Clock Different From Overtime?

In California law, working "off the clock" is defined as work done without getting paid. While overtime is just paid work, you're doing out of your usual working hours, working off the clock means you're doing additional tasks that aren't counted towards your daily or work hours.


Examples of working off the clock include:

  • Cleaning up after your shift is over

  • Doing extra work during rest and meal breaks

  • Staying behind to finish paperwork

In some cases, these small tasks are often used by employers to get people working off the clock without paying them. However, clean-ups, notes, and other tasks should be counted towards your working hours and paid. For example, if you're working at a restaurant, closing up should be part of your eight-hour workday, not an additional task.

What About Employees Working In Piece Rate?

California overtime legislation applies to firms who pay employees on a piece-rate compensation structure, with several limitations (a set amount of pay per unit completed). If a piece-rate employee works more than 8 hours per day or 40 hours per week, the employer is responsible for compensating the employee for the extra hours worked.


However, the problem is determining the specific amount of time and the equivalent pay you should be getting. Contact a prescreened California Attorney to help you navigate through California Overtime Laws and possible wage theft.