New overtime law begins Jan. 1 |

New overtime law begins Jan. 1

Michael Schneider

If you’re an industrial employee and your New Year’s resolution is to work longer days, be prepared to do it for less money.

The new year will bring a change to California’s overtime structure so that some employees won’t be paid overtime after eight hours of work in a day.

Rick Rice, industrial relations spokesperson, said the new regulations will affect most of California’s workforce except for those in the entertainment, amusement and agricultural industries.

Rice said state employees won’t be affected as they are already under federal contracts which have the same guidelines as the new law. Also, those in labor unions have union-made contracts and won’t be affected, Rice said.

The new rules will apply to five of the 15 Industrial Welfare Commission Orders, including the manufacturing industry, professional, technical, clerical, mechanical and similar occupations, public housekeeping, the mercantile industry and the transportation industry.

After the Industrial Welfare Commission voted in April to conform by 1998 to federal overtime regulations and drop the state’s unique rules, overtime will be paid only after 40 hours of work in one week to some industry workers.

Assemblymember Wally Knox (D-Los Angeles) drafted a bill to block the legislation last spring which passed the assembly, but he pulled the bill suspecting a veto from Gov. Pete Wilson, according to Rice.

The bill was pulled on the condition that it may resurface at next year’s legislative session.

The status quo, through next Wednesday, allows employees to collect time-and-a-half after eight hours and double-time after 12. It also allows those who work seven days in a week, regardless of the number of hours worked, to collect overtime on the seventh day. The new law will eliminate double-time wages completely.

Although under the new law there are few scenarios where an employee can get paid more than they would have under the previous system for the same amount of hours, there are potential benefits to the employee.

Employers may be better able to accommodate individual employees who want a flexible work schedule such as working four 10-hour days rather than five eight-hour shifts in a week.

While under the previous system employees would have been paid two hours of overtime each of the four days they’d work, most employers wouldn’t allow this schedule due to increased overtime costs, according to the Department of Industrial Relations.

Other hours options include working five nine-hour shifts with a three-day weekend every two weeks.

If you think or know you’re an employee or employer affected by the new overtime laws and want more information, contact the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement’s Sacramento office at 916-323-4920.

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