California state laws help ensure that employees receive fair treatment relating to hours worked and days off. Most employers cannot ask employees to work a sixth day in a week without paying overtime. If an employee has to work seven consecutive days, the employer may have to pay even higher overtime wages.
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In general, California's labor laws require that nonexmept employees who work more than eight hours in a week or 40 hours a week be entitled to overtime pay. While an employer can force an employee to work overtime so long as there is overtime pay, an employer cannot force an employee to work more seven days a week.
California law generally provides overtime pay for any employee who works more than eight hours in a day or 40 hours in a week. These employees should receive 1 1/2 times their normal rate of pay for any hours they work past these limits. For a full-time employee who typically works eight hours a day, this law ensures overtime pay if he or she has to work six days in a given week. There is no law that prevents an employer from asking someone to work a sixth day, provided it is willing to pay overtime (Reference 1).
One Day Off
Employers cannot require employees to work seven days in a week and cannot discipline an employee for refusing to work seven days in a week. However, if circumstances require an employee to work seven days in a week and he or she agrees to do so, he or she can do so in return for an extra day off later in the month. The employee must receive all rest days to which he or she is entitled by the end of the month (Reference 2). Employees who work a seventh consecutive day in a week receive 1 1/2 times their normal rate of pay unless they have worked less than 30 hours in the week leading up to that day. If they work more than eight hours on the seventh consecutive day, they receive twice their normal rate of pay for that time (Reference 3).
The laws relating to days off and overtime do not cover certain categories of workers. These categories include company executives; "learned professionals" such as lawyers and dentists; "creative professionals" such as artists and musicians; and administrative personnel, outside salespeople, computer technical workers and doctors and physicians. These categories of workers generally have ample independence to decide how they do their jobs or how the company operates. They are exceptions to the overtime laws only if their income exceeds a certain level depending on the profession (Reference 4).
Alternative Work Weeks
California labor law gives companies the option of implementing alternative work weeks such as four days of 10-hour shifts. At least two-thirds of employees must approve such a change in a vote that takes place by secret ballot. In this scenario, employees would receive three days off per week under the law or receive overtime pay for working a fifth, sixth or seventh day (Reference 5).