California Working Time and 4-day Workweek

February 20th 2024

Overall, federal time management laws are instrumental in ensuring that workers are compensated fairly for their time and effort in the workplace, protecting them from abuse and exploitation by employers.

The Fair Labor Standards Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act are vital federal laws that govern time management and worker compensation, ensuring fair labor practices across various sectors, including non-profit, public, and private organizations.

This article covers:


Laws and Regulations that Govern Employee Working Time in California

There are several laws and regulations in California that govern employee working hours. The minimum wage for all employees is set at $15.50 per hour. For non-exempt employees, if they work over 40 hours in a week, they are entitled to receive overtime pay at a rate of 1.5 times their regular rate.

Furthermore, California requires a 10-minute rest break for every 4 hours worked and a 30-minute meal break for every 5 hours worked.

In addition to these regulations, California has specific child labor laws that define permissible work hours, maximum daily and weekly hours, and restrictions for individuals under the age of 18.

Download U.S. Minimum Wage 2024 Poster now.

Overtime in California

In California, any hours worked by nonexempt employees that exceed the limits of 8 hours in a workday, 40 hours in a workweek, or 6 days in a workweek are considered as overtime.

The employer is required to pay their employees for overtime work at a rate of either one and a half times or double the regular rate of pay.

Overtime pay at one and a half times the regular rate applies to hours worked beyond 8 hours but up to and including 12 hours in a workday, as well as the first 8 hours worked on the seventh consecutive day of the workweek. Double the regular rate is applicable to all hours worked beyond 12 hours on a workday and all hours worked beyond 8 hours on the seventh consecutive day of the workweek.

It is the responsibility of employers to keep track of all overtime hours, whether authorized or not, and compensate their employees accordingly. However, employees are not allowed to work overtime without proper authorization, nor should they conceal such information from their employer and later attempt to claim recovery for it.

Overtime Exceptions and Exemptions in California

In California, there are specific overtime exceptions that differ from the standard state regulations or apply in unique circumstances where the regular rules do not. These exceptions are for the following types of employees:

  • Employees working on an alternative workweek schedule
  • Health industry employees on an alternative workweek schedule
  • Hospital and care center employees with on-site patients
  • Camp counselors
  • Personal attendants of nonprofit organizations
  • Resident managers in retirement homes with under 8 beds
  • Employees providing 24-hour residential care for minors
  • Ambulance drivers or attendants
  • Employees in ski establishments
  • Live-in employees

Learn more in detail about California Overtime Laws or download U.S. FLSA Exemption Salary Threshold 2024 Poster now.

California 4-day Workweek

In early 2022, California saw a significant step in the US towards implementing a government-mandated four-day workweek for the first time with a bill that sparked controversy among legislators.

Bill AB 2932 was officially introduced in February 2022, but failed to advance as it missed a submission deadline for consideration by fiscal committees. Critics of the bill raised concerns about exceptions for unions, potential wage increases, reduced employee hours, and increased costs for businesses.

The California State Assembly’s Labor and Employment Committee declined to set a policy hearing for AB 2932, effectively shelving it for the year.

Despite its failure in 2022, Congressman for the 39th District of California, Mark Takano reintroduced the bill, now named the Thirty-Two Hour Workweek Act, in March 2023. This new version seeks to replace the current national standard of working 40 hours a week with a 32-hour workweek at a federal level.

Takano’s renewed push for a shorter workweek comes after a successful six-month pilot program in the UK, where 90% of participating companies opted to continue with the shorter workweek.

This time, the reintroduced bill has gained support from organizations such as the Economic Policy Institute and the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations.

If passed in 2023, the proposed Thirty-Two Hour Workweek Act would implement a four-day workweek on a government-mandated level, distinguishing it from previous attempts applied on a company-by-company basis. This approach aligns with successful trials in Iceland and recent legislative changes in Belgium, where both countries adopted a national four-day workweek policy after successful trials.

Laws on Working Hours for Minors in California

In California, minors who wish to work are required to obtain an Employment Certificate, commonly known as a Work Permit. These permits are issued either by the California Department of Labor or the minor’s school. However, minors employed in the entertainment industry can only obtain their permits through the state Labor Department. Additionally, there are specific restrictions on the work hours and night shifts that minors can be employed for, which vary based on whether they are under 16 years old or between 16 and 17 years old:

Minors under the age of 16 and not in school may work up to 8 hours per day, 48 hours per week, or 6 days per week, but they are only allowed to work 3 hours each school day or 18 hours per week during school hours.

Those in this age range are not permitted to labor between the hours of 7 p.m. and 7 a.m from June 1 through Labor Day.

Minors between the ages of 16 and 17 may work up to 8 hours per day, 48 hours per week and they can work 4 hours per day and a total of 28 hours per week for combined work and academy conditioning throughout the academy week.

There are several limits on working hours that apply to children in this age range. Work is specifically prohibited between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., or between 12.30 a.m. and 5 a.m. if the following day isn’t an academy day.

To access a comprehensive list of occupations that are prohibited for minors in California, refer to the official guide to California Child Labor Laws.

Learn more about California Labor Laws through our detailed guide.

Important Cautionary Note

When making this guide we have tried to make it accurate but we do not give any guarantee that the information provided is correct or up-to-date. We therefore strongly advise you seek advice from qualified professionals before acting on any information provided in this guide. We do not accept any liability for any damages or risks incurred for use of this guide.