How do I calculate my overtime pay?

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Getting your rightful dues!

When it comes to calculating overtime in California, the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) has provided guidelines to employers and employees under California Labor Code section 510.  However, like many other components of the Labor Code, section 510 too is not simple to understand, unless individuals take the time to read through the entire contents of what this law has to say.

Unscrupulous employers realize this fact, and knowing full well that most employees will never bother to understand what is entailed in calculating overtime in California, they (employers) often shortchange their workers.  As an employee, the important thing for you to remember is that, getting paid overtime is your right, if you’ve earned it. But no one else but you will have to fight for your dues!

Elements in Overtime pay

There are several key elements that one must understand when trying to figure out how to calculate overtime pay. And those are:

  • “Regular Rate versus Hourly Rate” – When you calculate your OT dues, use your “Regular Rate” of pay, and not your “Hourly Rate”. The Regular Rate is a higher rate, inclusive of all hourly wages plus other compensation and benefits included
  • You must consider the application of Straight Time (ST), Overtime (OT) and Double Time (DT) rate
  • OT must be based on the hours worked in a day, and the weekly hours
  • Under the law, for the purpose of calculating overtime, 8 hours of work comprises a day’s work, and working more than 8 hours a day, or more than 6 days in any workweek (40 hours in total) entitles you to receive OT

Specifically, and there are certain exemptions and exceptions, you must be compensated at not less than:

a)  1.5 times your Regular Rate of pay for all work greater than 8 hours up to and including 12 hours in a single workday, and for the first 8 hours worked on the 7th consecutive day of work in a workweek; and

b)  2 times your regular rate of pay for all hours above 12 hours in a single day, and for all hours greater than 8 on the 7th consecutive day of work in a workweek.

Making sense of it all

If you worked five 9-hour days, here’s what you are owed:

Monday 8 hours x ST, 1 hour x OT
Tuesday 8 hours x ST, 1 hour x OT
Wednesday 8 hours x ST, 1 hour x OT
Thursday 8 hours x ST, 1 hour x OT
Friday 8 hours x ST, 1 hour x OT

This totals to 40 hours x ST, and 5 hours x OT. If you also work on Saturday, after the above work schedule (40 hours ST in the week), any additional hours would need to be paid at OT.

When calculating overtime in California, you should receive OT after 8 hours work in a single day, and DT after 12 hours work in a given day. If you work 13 hours on Monday, you must receive 8 hours x ST, 4 hours x OT, and 1 hour x DT. If you work on a day that is already at OT rate (Saturday, in the example above), you must get paid DT after 8 hours work in a day.

Get help to get paid!

Scott Miller, Attorney, can help you make sense of these calculations. Simply go to and get the help that you deserve now!

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