Wage theft and overtime: How are they related?

On Behalf of | May 8, 2023 | Employment Law

Employees in California are protected from different elements, including wage theft. The California Labor Commissioner’s Office aims to combat wage theft, ensuring residents are paid fairly. Unfortunately, some employers find tricks to get around this, especially when it comes to overtime.

Here is how wage theft and overtime are related:

Failures to pay

If your employer asks you to work past your scheduled hours and they fail to pay, this may constitute wage theft. In some instances, the employer may pay only partial payments, not the full amount — and some employees don’t realize it or are hesitant to speak up.

In California, you are entitled to an additional one and one-half times your regular rate for all hours worked past eight hours up to 12 hours in any workday and double the rate for all hours worked in excess of 12 hours in any workday. And these numbers change on the seventh consecutive day of work in a workweek. (That’s why it’s crucial to learn how to calculate your overtime pay to tell sooner when you are paid less.)


Your work hours should be counted in a weekly span. Averaging your hours may be a wage theft trick. For example, if you work for 60 hours in a week, you should receive a 20-hour overtime pay, but some employers will try to shift some of those hours to the next pay period to reduce the average number of hours in each week that are counted, which then reduces the overtime you’re actually due.

Working during breaks

Not everybody associates working during breaks with overtime. However, you should also be paid for your time if your employer asks you to work when you should be on break. In addition, asking you to work through breaks may, in itself, be a labor violation.

Wage theft commonly happens where overtime is concerned. If you experience it, you should obtain more information about your legal rights.


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