California labor laws state that workers cannot work more than 40 hours in a week or eight hours in a day without getting overtime pay. Some workers, however, work four 10-hour days every week. These workers are not entitled to overtime pay under most circumstances.
Regular Work Schedule
In general, working over eight hours per day is considered working overtime. But California law makes an exception for people who work more than eight hours a day on a regular basis as long as they do not work more than 40 hours per week. Thus, if a worker works a 4-day, 10-hour work week in California, he is not entitled to overtime. On the other hand, a worker who works 10 hours in a day in an emergency would be entitled to overtime pay for the extra two hours of work, even if he did not work over 40 hours total.
Employer Sets Schedule
In California, employers have the right to set employees' schedules. Thus, an employer may require a worker to conform to a schedule of four 10-hour days rather than five eight-hour days if the employer wishes. If an employee refuses to adhere to this schedule, the employer has the right to discipline the employee, including terminating an employee that habitually ignores the schedule.
California recognizes three types of regular work schedules. Besides the four 10-hour day schedule, employers may schedule workers for three 12-hour days or five eight-hour days. The employer should not mix these schedule types, as a worker could legitimately claim that she does not meet the 4/10 work schedule for California overtime law if she sometimes works a standard schedule and sometimes she works an alternative schedule. However, if the schedule alternates on a regular basis -- i.e. every other week the worker works four 10-hour shifts -- she would still be considered to work this type of shift regularly.
Overtime Law Regarding Rates
If a worker is entitled to overtime for working a 10-hour day, he must get time and a half for each hour over eight that he works. If the employee gets a set salary rather than getting paid by the hour, the employer must calculate his hourly rate to determine overtime amounts. Divide the worker's annual salary by 52 to get his weekly salary, then divide the total by 40 hours per week to get the regular hourly salary.