CA Overtime Exemptions

“Does my company owe me overtime pay?”

“Shouldn’t I be getting paid overtime for this,” might be the most common questions we hear when employees call our office.

Answering that question can be a LITTLE TRICKY, but I will attempt to clarify the different exemptions to overtime pay that may apply to you as a California worker.

First the basics: All employees in the state of California are entitled to overtime pay unless deemed otherwise exempt (NOT ENTITLED) under California overtime compensation laws.

So, who is EXEMPT? In determining whether or not you qualify for overtime pay (both current and back-pay), we must rule out the exemptions that any California employer may legally use.

I realize the reading is a little “dry,” but if you can hang in there I will give you a basic understanding of the legal terms and exemptions that may affect you. There is still no substitute for expertise, so once you have read and have a grasp of the general rules here, my team is waiting to help you answer the question so you can be certain if you are owed money.

So let’s get started….

San Jose Admin exemptionThe Administrative Exemption: Simply put, those who spend more than 50% of their time on the clock working directly for the business owner will come under the administrative exemption in California. Some are considered “administrative” if they answer to another exempt employee, and/or work with minimal supervision. In addition, your work must concern matters which are significant and pertain to company operations and/ or management policy. Last, the function you perform should not include production work to fall under this exemption.

California Executive Exemption:
Do you have a flashy title like Vice President, CEO or CFO? Then this is likely you. In basic terms, if you are at least partially “in charge” you may be exempt from overtime. The executive is integral in the management of the organization. You must manage a minimum of two people and carry the authority to promote, hire, or fire others or have an opinion that bears weight in such decisions, make determinations on the running of the given business, and be paid at least twice the state’s minimum wage for full time employees. If these guidelines describe you, you would likely be considered an “Executive”. BUT WAIT! Your title alone does not make you an executive. There are employers who will dole out titles such as “Assistant Manager” just to save money on overtime wages, and cut payroll cost. This is why it’s important to speak with an attorney about your individual case.

California Professional Exemption: Individuals with education greaterSan Jose Proffessional Exemption than a Bachelors degree and in most cases a license such as a doctor, lawyer, teacher, architect, accountant etc. likely fall under the professional exemption. Not all “Professionals” are based on education though; they may also be in a creative or artistic field performing a job relying on their special intrinsic skills which could not be just taught to another person with basic training, this can mean artists, writers, musicians etc. Like the other exemptions you have to be making at least two times state minimum wage for a full time employee to qualify for this exemption.

California Exemption for Outside Salespersons: If this is you, you probably know it, but just to be clear, if you are required to clock the lions share of your time outside the office making sales (getting paid by commission is not a requirement), this might be you. Unlike those above, there is no wage requirement for outside salespeople. You can still be deemed exempt from overtime if you fail to meet goals which would earn you commissions putting you over the double minimum wage guideline. Additionally, such delivery drivers also selling their product can fall under sales exemptions. My team at UELG can assist you in sorting this out so you will know for sure.

Exempt Computer Professionals: This tends to be slightly more complicated. For example, if more than 50% of your work is on analysis San Jose Computer workersand/or design you could be covered by the Admin Exemption discussed above. However If more than half your time is on writing code you could qualify for overtime pay. Additionally, hardware, helpdesk or IT workers are generally non-exempt and WILL get overtime pay as required by state law. Computer professionals fall under very detailed wage guidelines. Compare your pay rate to those below;  if your pay did not meet these minimums YOU MAY BE ENTITLED TO OVERTIME PAY and back pay with penalties!


These are California minimum requirements

YEAR Hourly
Annual Salary Eq.
2014 $40.38 $84,130.53
2013 $39.90 $83,132.93
2012 $38.89 $81,026.25
2011 $37.94 $79,050

As I said, the information here is highly simplified; UELG can assist you in sorting out the details and determine if you are or were eligible for overtime pay. Leave all the details my team!

California Caregiver Exemption: In most cases PRIVATE HOME caregivers are exempt from overtime pay. This does not include those working in a group home or care facility while performing such responsibilities as bathing, meal preparation and toilet assistance. This is not applicable to nurses, and if your duties include such jobs as driving or cleaning covering at least 20% of your time, you might still qualify for overtime pay.

Being very basic guidelines, this information can help you to understand whether or not you are owed overtime current or back pay, but we the team here at UELG are here to assist you. Let us sort through the details of your claim. Remember, DON’T WAIT, there are strict statutes of limitations, giving us only a short window of time to make a case and collect for you. Do you believe a previous employer owes you overtime or other pay? What about your current company? We can help either way, call now for a free case review.


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