Do California Employers Have to Pay for “Unauthorized” Overtime?

The laws regarding overtime compensation have been around for decades. And it is simple: if a non-exempt employee works over 8 hours in a day and over 40 hours in a week, they’re entitled to 1.5 times their regular rate of compensation for those hours. But what happens in the event of so-called “unauthorized” overtime? An employee works overtime hours that they weren’t supposed to work, even though the employer didn’t ask them to. Does the employer still need to pay overtime compensation? Yes.

California Overtime Laws

The California Department of Industrial Relations has set very specific standards when it comes to overtime. They can be divided into two categories: time and a half, and double pay. 

Time and a Half

Under California’s labor laws, overtime is defined as any situation when a non-exempt employee meets one or all of the following guidelines:


  • The employee has worked over 40 hours in a single week; and
  • The employee has worked over 8 hours in a single day; and
  • The employee has worked for 7 consecutive days or more

Once any of those conditions is met, that employee is entitled to a compensation of 1.5 times their regular rate of compensation. 

Double Pay

In addition to the time and a half pay structure, there are further compensation structures in California that require employers to pay double wages if their employees meet the following requirements:


  • The employee has worked for 12 hours or more in a single day; and
  • The employee has worked for more than 8 hours for 7 days in a row

“Unauthorized” Overtime

Simply put – employees are entitled to proper overtime compensation even if the employer did not authorize the hours.  This doesn’t mean, however, that an employer cannot warn the employee to first obtain authorization to work overtime – it just means that overtime compensation must be paid even if there was no prior authorization.  

Contact Gokal Law

Are you an employee who hasn’t been paid the overtime you earned? Contact Jibit Cinar of Cepkinian-Cinar Law.

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