Employee Working Overtime for Business Company

California Off-the-Clock Work Laws

Law Offices of Charles P. Boylston Sept. 1, 2023

There is often a constant struggle between employers and employees to find the right balance of work and compensation. In some fields, it can be a common occurrence for employers to expect their employees to be willing to put in extra time or perform additional tasks when the employee may technically be considered “off-the-clock.” What are the laws in this type of scenario? Is it legal for an employer to require someone to work off-the-clock? These are important questions to get answered whether you are an employer or an employee. 

At the Law Offices of Charles P. Boylston, we are dedicated to assisting both employers and employees in navigating the complex and often challenging landscape of employment law. From wage disputes and ADA compliance issues to sexual harassment or workplace discrimination, we want to help resolve serious problems and help you protect your best interests. If you are located in Temecula, California, or throughout Los Angeles County, Orange County, Riverside County, San Bernardino County, or San Diego County, reach out to us today to schedule a consultation. 

California Overtime Rules 

Under California law, all nonexempt workers (18 years of age and older, or legally eligible workers who are 16 or 17 years of age) must be compensated one and a half times their normal rate of pay for every hour they work over 8 hours in a single day, or over 40 hours in one week. Any amount of time beyond 12 hours in a single workday requires double the normal rate of pay (double-time pay also applies to any hours worked on a seventh or more consecutive day of work). 

It should be noted that these are the general rules. There are a variety of exceptions, and consulting with an employment law attorney can help you understand them. 

Working Off-the-Clock 

Though many people may not realize it, there is a wide range of duties involved in many different jobs that, from a legal standpoint, can be considered “off-the-clock” work. Some of the common activities that could constitute working off-the-clock include: 

  • Loading a work vehicle with tools or supplies 

  • “Warming up” a vehicle or machine before starting a shift 

  • Travel time between different work sites 

  • Helping fellow employees with tasks after already clocking out 

  • Re-doing or correcting work that was previously completed 

As you can see, many of these tasks may seem mundane or insignificant, but they all include tasks being done for work purposes—often without the employee being “on-the-clock.” 

Can an Employer Require You to Work Off-the-Clock? 

The short answer is “no.” According to the Fair Labor Standards Act, employees must be compensated for all work duties, including being paid overtime for tasks being done after normal work hours. In fact, in 2018, the California Supreme Court issued a ruling that requires employers to compensate workers for all routine “off-the-clock” activity. This includes closing up workplaces after clocking out, setting alarm systems, and other end-of-shift duties. By law, every hour, minute, or even second of work-related tasks being done should be compensated. 

Employer Arguments for Off-the-Clock Work 

Employers will often offer various defenses if an employee raises an issue over off-the-clock work. Though the employer should know when employees are on the job and what they are doing, some of the potential defenses employers may use include: 

  • Claiming the employee performed the off-the-clock tasks voluntarily and was not required 

  • Claiming they (the employer) did not know the employee was doing off-the-clock work 

  • Claiming they had not authorized the employee to be performing duties off-the-clock 

The employer may also claim to have an official, written policy prohibiting performing any work-related tasks after hours or while an employee is off-the-clock. Though an employer may use one of the defenses listed above, this does not resolve the issue or absolve the employer from any potential penalty. If you believe you have been denied compensation for off-the-clock work and your employer has offered up a defense for the situation, you still have the right to consult with an employment law attorney to discuss any legal options that may be available to you. 

Bring Your Questions to an Experienced Attorney 

Employment law is full of complicated rules and regulations—for both employers and employees. Dealing with workplace legal matters appropriately requires the guidance of experienced and knowledgeable attorneys. When something arises at work that leads to one or both sides of a dispute taking legal action, you need skilled representation in your corner. 

If you have questions regarding off-the-clock work laws, our team at the Law Offices of Charles P. Boylston is ready to help. From our office location in Temecula, we are proud to represent both employers and employees in a wide range of legal matters throughout Southern California, including the counties of San Diego, San Bernardino, Riverside, Orange, and Los Angeles. Call us today to schedule a consultation to discuss your situation.