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Alternative Workweeks and Your Rights in California

Alternative Workweeks in California

Employees who work under an alternative workweek schedule are exempt from California state (daily) overtime requirements. An alternative workweek schedule is any regularly scheduled workweek where an employee works over eight hours a day. This means that employees can be scheduled for up to 10-hour workdays without being paid overtime, so long as that they only work a 40-hour workweek. However, with an alternative workweek, workers in the healthcare industry and the offshore oil and gas industry can be scheduled for 12-hour workdays without overtime pay. Examples of common alternative workweek schedules include the 4/10 schedule in which employees work hour days a week with 10-hour workdays, and the 9/80 schedule in which they work four 9-hour days and one 8-hour day (usually Friday), and have every other Friday off.

Employees are still entitled to overtime pay at a rate of one-and-one-half times the regular rate of pay under an alternative workweek schedule if they work in excess of their regularly scheduled workday or if they work an excess of 40 hours a week. Employers must pay employees double the regular rate of pay if they have their employees work over 12-hour days or if they have employees work more than 8 hours on a day that the employees are not regularly scheduled for work.

There are specific rules for establishing alternative workweek schedules under the Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC) Wage Orders for different types of workers. Alternative workweeks are provided for workers under IWC Wage Orders 1-13, and 16-17. Under most IWC Wage Orders (all except 4, 5, 9 and 10) employers are required to give employees who work alternative workweeks two consecutive days off per week. However, under IWC Wage Orders 14 and 15, those who work in agricultural occupations and household occupations cannot work alternative workweek schedules. To see what alternative workweek schedule requirements are applicable in your industry, see the list of IWC Wage Orders.

To establish an alternative workweek schedule, employers must meet the requirements of both Labor Code section 511 and IWC Wage Order section 3. One of the requirements for establishing an alternative workweek schedule is to hold a secret ballot election and for the results to be reported to the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE), which will be listed on the Alternative Work Database.

Please note that It is illegal for employers to reduce an employee’s regular rate of pay in exchange for the adoption of an alternative workweek schedule, or to reduce an employee’s pay if the employee discontinues the alternative workweek schedule.

If you have issues with your employer’s implementation of an alternative work week, feel free to give our office a call at (323) 208-9171 or email us at info@kyletodd.com.

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