Overtime Exemptions

One of the most common questions from callers that contact our office is, “Am I Owed Overtime Pay?”

This section may be a LITTLE TRICKY to understand, but I will try to explain the various exemptions to overtime pay in California as simply as possible

 First, here is the easy stuff.  Everyone is entitled to overtime pay as an employee in the State of California, unless they are otherwise deemed exempt from overtime compensation.

So to determine if you are entitled to overtime pay, you have to find out if you are exempt (NOT ENTITLED TO) under the various types of exemptions available to employers.

I understand the reading is somewhat “dry” and has some legal terms, but stay with me and I think you will have a basic understanding of the exemptions. More importantly, to be certain as to whether or not you fall into a category of exemption, you will want to have a consultation with an attorney. The purpose of this page is just to give you some general guidelines.

So here we go….

The Administrative Exemption
In simple terms, to fall under the administrative exemption in California you must spend over half of your time working for an owner of a business, or other employee who is exempt from overtime, or with only general supervision. Also you must be working on matters that are significant and relate to management policy and/or general operations.  Finally, the job performed should not be production in nature to qualify for this exemption.

Execturive overtime exemptionThe Executive Exemption
If you have a fancy title like CEO, CFO or Vice President, this could be you. Simply put, an executive is part of the management of the company. If you manage at least two people and have the power to hire, fire or promote others or at least have an opinion that carries weight in these matters, make decisions about the running of the business, and make at least two times the state minimum wage for a full time employee, then you are most likely considered an Executive. This means if you are at least partially “in charge” you may be exempt from overtime. It’s important to know that your job title alone does not dictate this, some employers looking to save themselves from paying overtime wages, will give the title of “assistant manager” or a similar title to avoid the additional payroll cost. This is why it’s important to speak with an attorney about your individual case.

The Professional ExemptionPreoffessional Overtime Exemption
Overly simplified, this is most people who have education above a Bachelors degree or higher and usually a license such as a lawyer, doctor, architect, teacher, accountant, real estate agent etc. In addition, it can mean someone in an artistic or creative field who does a job based on their own special skills that could not be taught to any individual with basic training, usually an artist, writer, musician etc. To qualify under this exemption you must already make at least twice the state minimum wage for a full time employee working 40 hours a week.

The Outside Salesperson Exemption
You probably know if you fall under this exemption, but just to clarify, if you spend the majority of your time outside the business and make sales whether or not you are paid by commission, this may be you. This is one exemption that does not carry the wage requirement. If you are paid commission and don’t make your goals that would put you over the double minimum wage requirement, you may still be considered exempt from overtime. In addition, some delivery drivers who also sell the product may fall under this exemption. Our employment attorneys can help you sort this out so you know for sure.

computer proffessional overtime exemptionThe Computer Professionals Exemption
This one can be a little trickier to figure out. For instance, if you spend more than 50% of your time on analysis and design you could fall under the Admin Exemption we discussed before, on the other hand if you spend more than half your time writing computer code you may be entitled to overtime. In addition, IT and hardware or helpdesk employees are typically non-exempt meaning they DO get overtime. There are also very specific wage requirements for computer professionals. You can compare your wages to the graph below.   If you are not paid at least these amounts, YOU MAY BE ENTITLED TO OVERTIME PAY!

These are state required minimums

YEAR Hourly
Annual Salary Eq.
2014 $40.38 $84,130.53
2013 $39.90 $83,132.93
2012 $38.89 $81,026.25
2011 $37.94 $79,050

Again, these are very basic explanations, but we can help you understand the intricacies and if you qualify for overtime pay.  Just leave the details to us!

The Caregiver Exemption
In the simplest terms, an exempt caregiver is employed IN A PRIVATE HOME, not a care facility or group home and performs such duties as, meal preparation, bathing, showering, and toilet assistance. This does not apply to a nurse, and if you perform other jobs such as cleaning or driving for more than 20% of your work time, you may still be entitled to overtime.

These are very basic guidelines to help you determine if you may be owed overtime pay. Please know that we are ready and willing to help you understand your specific case and figure out what you could be owed. Remember, there is a strict statute of limitations, meaning we only have a limited time to file a case on your behalf, so you must act quickly. If you believe you should have been paid overtime by a previous employer or should be getting it now, let us help.



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NOTE: California entitles you to daily overtime, unlike the Fair Labor Standards Act which is after 40 hours per week.


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