Working remotely or working from home has been on the rise. It's a trend that had been observed even as we were leading up to the global coronavirus pandemic. However, when businesses were forced to close their worksites and offices, working from home became even more common and necessary for businesses to carry on with their work.
Remote working also brought other changes such as modifications in employees' schedules. It is important to remember while the location and schedule of work may have changed, California's overtime laws still apply. Whether you are working from an office building or from home, wage and hour laws in California don't change.
How Overtime Works While Working Remotely
When it comes to compensation, working from home shouldn't be viewed any differently than when you work from the office. If you are on the clock, it is fair to expect that you'll be paid your normal wages, including overtime pay, when appropriate. However, it has been observed, especially during the pandemic, that some employers take advantage of workers who are working from home offices.
For example, your employer may automatically assume that you're available "any time" now that you live and work in the same location. Therefore, your employer may be making more demands of you while working from home than the time you used to work from the office. While it is not against the law for an employer to expect more from his or her employees, it is illegal when they fail to compensate you for overtime hours worked.
Here are just a few examples of ways in which your employer may try to avoid paying you overtime wages:
- You may be expected to take work calls at all times while you may be getting paid only for your normal work hours.
- Your employer may expect you to respond to emails, texts or direct messages regardless of whether or not you're on the clock.
- Your employer may call you to finish up some work after you've clocked out, but may not pay you for the time you spent finishing up that task.
Overtime Pay in California
If you are a non-exempt or "hourly" employee in California, you are entitled to earn overtime pay. This type of pay is calculated at a rate of 1.5 times that of your usual rate of pay. You are entitled to overtime pay if you work more than eight hours per workday or more than 40 hours during the workweek. If you work more than 12 hours on a single workday or in excess of eight hours on a seventh consecutive day in a workweek, the overtime pay rate for those hours changes to twice that of the employee's usual pay rate.
Under California law, "exempt" employees who are paid a salary instead of an hourly rate are not entitled to overtime pay, with a few exceptions. These employees are typically paid a salary instead of an hourly rate and may hold supervisory roles. Independent contractors are also exempt from overtime pay. Independent contractors are selfemployed or in business for themselves. Since independent contractors are not on the company's payroll and are not considered as employees, they are not eligible to earn overtime pay.
However, we often see cases where a worker is misclassified as an independent contractor or as an exempt employee when they should be classified as employees. Employers often adopt these types of strategies to avoid paying overtime and other benefits. This is against the law. If you believe you've been misclassified, you can pursue compensation including back pay for unpaid overtime by filing a wage and hour lawsuit.
Tracking Your Hours While Working from Home
When you work from home, you do face a heightened risk of burnout because you are likely to fewer breaks and work longer hours than if you were working from the office. When the lines between your work and home life begin to blur, it's easy to lose track of how much you've been working. Tracking your time is one of the easiest ways to ensure that you don't work beyond the time you're supposed to work. Be sure to log any overtime hours that you worked. This will help ensure that you get paid for all the overtime you work.
Protecting Your Rights
So, what can you do if your employer fails to pay your overtime wages when you work from home or refuses to do so? It is important to first understand your rights. If you believe that your employer has shortchanged your overtime pay or has said they won't pay you overtime because you work from home, contact an experienced Los Angeles wage and hour lawyer who will fight to protect your rights and help you seek back wages and other compensation that you rightfully deserve.
The experienced Los Angeles employment lawyers at Kingsley & Kingsley represent workers in California who have been working from home and were forced to work more hours than they got paid for or were eligible for overtime, but did not receive it.
Call us at (818) 862-5792 for a free consultation and comprehensive case evaluation.