If I work overtime without authorization, does my employer have to pay me for it?
Yes. Many overtime wage claims deal with this issue. The bottom line is that, if you work overtime, you have to be paid for it. Overtime must be paid at 1.5 times your “regular” rate of pay if you work more than eight hours but less than twelve hours in one day or more than 40 total hours in one week. If you work seven days in a single work week, you must be paid overtime for the first eight hours worked on the seventh day. This is called the “seventh day premium.” If you work more than twelve hours in a workday, you have to be paid doubletime. Doubletime must be paid at twice your “regular” rate of pay. If you aren’t paid overtime, you can file a California overtime wage claim.
But if you work overtime without authorization, your employer can discipline — or even fire — you. But regardless of whether you work overtime with or without authorization, you have to be paid for it. The standard for determining whether you are “working” is whether you are “suffered or permitted to work, whether or not required to do so.” What this means is that if your employer knows or should know that you are working, you are “on the clock” and must be paid. But if you work for your boss without his knowledge and try to cover up the fact that you worked, you probably are not going to be able to come back later to bring an overtime wage claim against him for not paying you for those hours.
The only exception to the rule that you have to be paid for all overtime hours worked is if the amount you worked without getting paid was “de minimus,” meaning that it was only a few minutes. Employers can round up or down your total work time so long as it evens out over time.
Jane employee is a non-exempt employee in California. Her boss has a policy of not letting her work overtime without prior approval or authorization. One day Jane is so busy at work that she needs to work overtime to finish her project. Jane’s boss is on vacation, and Jane cannot get his approval to work overtime. Jane works the overtime and records her overtime hours on her time card. When Jane’s boss comes back into town and does payroll for that week, he sees that Jane worked overtime. Jane’s boss tells Jane that he isn’t going to pay her for the overtime hours because she worked overtime without authorization. Jane can file an overtime wage claim to collect the unpaid overtime hours. Jane’s boss must pay her for the hours.