Mandatory Overtime: Employers sometimes force employees to work past 8 hours a day or more than 40 a week, but don’t pay overtime rates. Depending on circumstances, it may be illegal for an employer to require an employee to work mandatory overtime.

Overtime Pay Waivers: An employee’s right to collect overtime pay cannot be waived. An overtime pay waiver in an employment contract is invalid under California law. An employment contract also cannot waive the CA overtime rates (time-and-a-half and double time), even if the employment agreement specifies that overtime will be at a particular (lower) rate.

Commute Time: Employers are generally not required to pay for time employees spend as part of an ordinary commute. For workers without a fixed job site, such as merchandisers who travel store-to-store, California law generally treats the first and last drive of the day as commute time. But drives in between job sites generally count as paid time.

Travel Time: Unlike commute time, time spent traveling for work must be compensated in California. Whether it’s air travel to meet a client, taking public transport to go pull public records, or drive time between job sites, employers must treat those hours as paid time. As a result, travel time counts towards calculating overtime hours and guaranteed hourly minimum wage.

Salaried Employees Exempt from Overtime: Certain categories of salaried employees are exempt from the protections of California’s overtime law. White collar workers who are employed in an administrative, executive, computer professional, or other professional capacity may be considered exempt employees under California law.

Unionized Workers: Employees that are unionized are an exception to the general rule in California that workers get time-and-a-half and double pay. California allows unionized workers to agree to a different overtime rate in a collective bargaining agreement, as long as the worker earns a wage premium for overtime hours that is at least 30% of California minimum wage. Based on California’s 2019 minimum wage,, union workers must earn a premium wage of at least $3.30 an hour for overtime work.

Regular Rate of Pay: Some employees don’t have a single specified hourly rate, so they question what base rate to use when calculating overtime. For example, some employees receive a different wage rate based on the type of work (such as minimum wage for travel time and a higher wage rate for regular work hours), and some employees are paid piece-rate, meaning they receive a specified amount per job completed. California requires employers to calculate overtime pay based on the employee’s regular rate of pay. Generally, the regular rate of pay can be calculated by dividing the total amount of money the employee earns per week by the total hours the employee works in a regular week.