Is it legal for a company to make you work overtime but then take it back at the end?

UPDATED: Jun 21, 2012

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Is it legal for a company to make you work overtime but then take it back at the end?

This payday I get 96 hours, next payperiod I only get 56 hours. I’m forced to take the time off. This is how it is every month. If we work 16 hours of overtime so we can cover thier scheduling requirements. We have to give up 24 hours of straight time because the 16 hours of time and a half equates to 24 hours of straight time. Is this even legal?

Asked on June 21, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Yes, business have to pay overtime when employees work it, but may schedule so as to avoid overtime. However, overtime is based on weekly work (or daily also, in CA), not on hours over a biweekly  or semimonthly payperiod. So whenever you work more than 40 hours in one week, you are owed overtime; in CA, you are also entitled to overtime if you work more than 8 hours in a day. So while an employer can try to arrange your schedule so as to minimize or avoid overtime, if you work sufficient hours to earn it, you must be paid it, even if the next day or the next week you work less than your normal hours.

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