Can I Earn Overtime If I'm Paid a Salary?

Determining who can or cannot receive overtime pay in California can be tricky due to the complexities in individual workplaces. The law states that non-exempt employees in California are eligible to receive overtime if they go over their scheduled work hours. However, exempt or salaried employees are typically ineligible for overtime pay. That said, even exempt employees can receive overtime pay if they earn below a certain figure.

There are also many cases where employees are misclassified as salaried when they should be classified as hourly employees. If you believe your employer is not paying you overtime wages earned, you must contact an experienced Los Angeles wage and hour lawyer to get more information about what the law states and your legal rights.

Understanding Salary Laws in California

While California's non-exempt workers are protected by California's minimum wage laws, it is important to remember that there is a minimum salary requirement for exempt employees as well. "Exempt employees" are those who are exempt from the state’s wage and hour laws. However, to be considered an exempt employee, he or she must meet certain requirements when it comes to job duties and earn a minimum salary that is comparable to twice the state minimum wage based on a 40-hour workweek.

In some cases, non-exempt employees may also be paid a salary, but they cannot earn less than the state minimum wage. Additionally, salaried non-exempt employees are protected by California wage and hour laws, such as overtime laws and rest and meal break laws.

The statewide minimum wage in California in 2021 is $14 per hour or $13 per hour for employers with 25 or fewer employees. A salaried employee should be paid no less than the number of hours worked at the California minimum wage. For employees working a full-time job at 40 hours a week, the minimum salary should be at least $520 a week.

As a non-exempt employee, salaried employees who work over the maximum number of hours should receive overtime pay. It is illegal for an employer to ask non-exempt salaried employees to work more than the maximum hours without providing overtime compensation.

Examples of Salaried Employees

The most important category of exempt employees is comprised of administrators, executives, and professionals. It is also important to remember that salaried employees are not always exempt. Moreover, exempt employees' exclusion to overtime requirements is sometimes referred to as "white-collar exemption."

For a worker to be exempt from wage and hour laws while working under this classification, the following conditions must be satisfied:

  • The employee's main tasks should involve professional, administrative, or executive duties.
  • The employee should be able to exercise independent judgment at work.
  • The employee should earn a minimum salary that is equivalent to twice the minimum wage requirement for a full-time employee in the state who is working a 40-hour workweek.

It is important to remember that being paid such a salary and performing duties in an office setting do not qualify one as an exempt employee.

Other salaried professionals who may be excluded from California overtime laws include:

  • Computer software specialists: These professionals specialize in hardware and software designs, analysis of computer systems, or are involved in system design and development. They must meet several requirements to be exempt, such as being engaged in creative or intellectual work that gives them some level of autonomy; possessing high levels of skill and proficiency; and earning an hourly wage of at least $45.41 an hour or an annual salary of $94,603.25. Computer professionals who are entry-level workers or trainees are not considered exempt. Others who do not have the special skills or expertise to work with minimal or no supervision are also not exempt.
  • Surgeons and doctors: These professionals are excluded from California overtime laws. However, the exemption does not apply to interns, residents or surgeons, and physicians who are covered under a collective bargaining agreement.
  • Government employees: The state's overtime wage laws do not affect state workers or those who work for local governments or the University of California.
  • Workers earning commissions: Workers who are paid more than the minimum wage by at least one or one-and-a-half times and those who make more than 50% of their wages from commissions are also exempt from wage and hour laws.

If You Have Been Wrongly Classified

California's labor laws are very clear. If your employer misclassified you as an exempt employee and are working as a non-exempt employee, you must seek the counsel of an experienced Los Angeles wage and hour lawyer who can help file a lawsuit against your employer to help you collect the overtime compensation you deserve.

Schedule a Consultation with an Experienced Wage and Hour Attorney Today!

The Los Angeles employment attorneys at Kingsley and Kingsley Lawyers can help you determine whether or not you meet the standard for overtime exemption. You should not be missing out on the overtime pay you earned.

Call us today at (818) 239-7030 to obtain more information about California overtime laws and to discuss your case.

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Can I Earn Overtime If I'm Paid a Salary?

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California wage and hour laws can be complex, which is why it is essential to hire an experienced attorney if you believe you were misclassified as an exempt employee and should be earning overtime. Read our full blog to learn more.