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  4.  | Can employers legally refuse to pay workers overtime wages?

Can employers legally refuse to pay workers overtime wages?

Many workers in California know that there are numerous laws in place designed to protect their rights. California workers benefit not just from federal employment statutes but also from state laws that expand on worker protections.

Overtime pay is a perfect example. California has more robust overtime rules than the federal government and most other states. Hourly workers and workers with low salaries may deserve overtime wages based on their work schedules.

Can companies enact and enforce a rule prohibiting overtime wages in California, given the worker protections that the state and federal government have in place?

Companies can prohibit overtime work, not overtime pay

Every business has the right to structure its employment relationships as management sees fit. So long as the company remains compliant with state and federal laws, it can hire as many workers as management wants to work for as many or as few hours as management teams appropriate.

Many businesses do have policies prohibiting unauthorized overtime. These policies often require that managers or workers at the corporate offices for the business approve overtime before workers put in extra hours. It is perfectly legal for companies to prevent workers from putting in more than 40 hours or working long shifts which could trigger California state overtime laws.

However, if the worker puts in the time, then the company must pay them accordingly. Regardless of whether a worker had prior authorization or not, companies must pay them overtime wages when the length of their shift, the number of days they worked in a row or the total hours worked that week make them eligible for overtime pay.

If a company tries to deny a worker overtime wages for hours they already worked or punishes them for requesting earned overtime pay, a worker affected may have grounds for a wage claim. As such, understanding how the law protects a worker’s right to overtime pay may benefit those confused because of company policies.


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