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Is Working Off The Clock Illegal In California?

Updated: Nov 25, 2022

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 our prescreened California Labor and Employment Attorneys often handle them.


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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. On the other hand, employers in California 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 employees worked over 40 in a week, whereas California law mandates overtime pay for all hours employees 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 advise you on the best move.


How Is Working Off The Clock Different From Overtime?

California law defines working "off the clock" as work done without getting paid. While overtime is just paid work you're doing out of your usual hours, working off the clock means 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, employers often use these small tasks 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, closing up should be part of your eight-hour workday, not an additional task if you're working at a restaurant.

What About Employees Working In Piece Rate?

California overtime legislation applies to firms that 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.


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Can You Waive Your Rest Breaks?

Employees are entitled to two on-the-clock rest intervals during an 8-hour workday. If an employee takes both 10-minute breaks during the day and works 8 hours and 20 minutes that day, the overtime rate should be applied to the 20 minutes.


Again, if your boss is making you work during rest breaks without pay, then you're working off the clock, and you might be experiencing wage theft under California Employment Law.


Should You Be Paid For Time Spent Travelling?

The time an employee spends traveling throughout the course of his or her job, as ordered by the employer, is counted toward the number of hours worked.


Driving to a trade fair to represent the firm, driving to sales meetings, and driving to meet with clients for lunch are all examples of work travel.

Find A Prescreened Employment Lawyer in Los Angeles (And Across California)


1000Attorneys.com is a California Bar Association-Certified Lawyer Referral Service that can refer you to a prescreened lawyer best fit to handle your claims. Contact us on our 24/7 lawyer referral hotline at 1-661-310-7999 or complete our inquiry submission form for a FREE INITIAL CONSULTATION.

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