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What is Overtime vs. Double Time?

Overtime vs. Double TimeOvertime vs. Double Time
min read
August 21, 2023

If you’re an employer, it’s important to pay your employees fairly and comply with labor laws that apply to you, such as minimum wage and overtime pay.

You may already be familiar with the concept of overtime pay. But there’s a specific form of overtime pay called double time that you need to know about.

Here’s how it works.

Overtime vs. Double Time 101

Overtime is when you pay your employees 1.5 times their normal rate, while double time is when you pay your employees twice their normal rate. 

For instance, if an employee regularly earns $17, their overtime rate is $25.5 per hour, while their double time rate is $34 per hour.

Overtime is required by federal law for any hours worked over 40 in a week as per the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Unlike overtime pay, double time is not required by any federal law. California is the only state that has double-time regulations. 

When Do You Pay Overtime vs. Double Time?

In California, overtime wages of one and a half times apply to all time worked in excess of 40 hours in a single workweek or 8 hours in a single day.

Double-time wages apply to time worked in excess of 12 hours in a day.  

On the seventh consecutive day, overtime and double-time rates kick in earlier. Here’s a quick guide you can use:

California employees are entitled to overtime (time and a half) for:

  • Any hours worked in excess of a 40-hour workweek
  • Any hours worked in excess of 8 in a day
  • The first 8 hours worked on the 7th consecutive day of work

California employees are entitled to double time (twice their regular rate) for:

  • Any hours worked in excess of 12 in a day
  • Any hours worked in excess of 8 on the 7th consecutive day of work

That many ifs, ands, and buts are about as clear as mud, so let’s review an example. 

Overtime and Double Time Example 

Say it’s a busy week, and you have a ton of overtime work available for your team. 

You have an employee who’s excited to jump in. They work a 14-hour day and earn a regular rate of $14 per hour.

In this example, we’ll say that this is the 3rd consecutive day of work for that employee. Here’s how you would pay them for that day: 

Pay with Overtime + Double Time
Hours Number of Hours Hourly Pay Rate Subtotal
First 8 hours 8 regular hours $14 $112
Hours 9 through 12 4 hours of overtime $21 $84
Hours 13 and 14 2 hours of double time $28 $56
Total Pay $252

How To Calculate Overtime and Double Time Pay in California

Here’s how to calculate overtime or double time for different types of employees in California. 

  • For employees paid hourly: Use the employee’s regular rate of pay, including shift differentials if they apply. Multiply that rate by 1.5 to get the rate you pay for overtime hours. Multiply their regular rate by 2 to get their double-time pay.
  • For salaried employees: Start with their yearly salary, which is their base salary plus any tips, commissions, and nondiscretionary bonuses. Divide this annual salary by 52 to get the weekly rate. Divide the weekly rate by the hours defined in the employment contract to get their hourly rate. If in doubt, divide by 40 to get their hourly rate. Then take the regular hourly rate you calculated and multiply it by 1.5 to get their overtime wage rate. Multiple it by 2 to get their double time rate.

Are Bonuses Included when Figuring Out an Employee’s Pay Rate?

Nondiscretionary bonuses are included when calculating an employee’s regular pay rate. These are bonuses that are based on predetermined terms, like having great attendance, hitting a deadline or meeting a quota. 

On the other hand, discretionary bonuses, which fall under the full control of the employer to hand out, are not included. Discretionary bonuses can be year-end holiday bonuses, referral bonuses, or other gifts.

What About Other Types of Compensation?

You can refer to the California Overtime Law FAQ “What is the regular rate of pay and how is it determined?” section for less common situations, such as: 

  • Employees paid by commission
  • Employees paid by the piece, meaning they are paid per each unit of output they produce
  • Employees paid two or more rates by the same employer, such as an employee who earns a regular hourly wage and a higher night shift rate in the same period

Which Employees Are Exempt from California’s Overtime Pay Rates?

Full-time employees who earn a salary that’s equal to at least twice the state minimum wage of $15.50 per hour are exempt from California wage laws if their work is primarily intellectual, managerial, or creative. 

The following types of employees may have a full or partial exemption from California’s overtime compensation laws:

  • Executive and administrative employees (such as managers or school administrators)
  • Professional employees (such as lawyers and doctors)
  • Certain computer software workers
  • People who work for the state or local governments
  • Outside sales employees
  • Individuals who are a parent, spouse, or child (including adopted) of their employer
  • Employees of a national service program like the Senior Corps
  • Certain drivers
  • Employees covered by certain union contracts or other collective bargaining agreements
  • Certain airline workers
  • Certain employees working in theater, film, television, or radio
  • Certain personal attendants
  • Babysitters under the age of 18 who work in their employer’s home
  • Some actors

For a full list, you can access California’s overtime exemptions page. The chart uses the state’s Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC) Wage Orders to determine if an employee is fully or partially exempt. 

The California Labor Code is extensive, and it often feels like listening to a late-night infomercial host say, “But wait, there’s more.” 

If you believe you have employees that may qualify as exempt, you may want to work with an HR or legal expert in California to make sure you understand exactly which rules apply to your team. Otherwise, follow this guide for all your non-exempt employees.

Final Thoughts: Overtime vs. Double Time

If you’re an employer in California, state law says you have to pay overtime when employees work over 8 hours in a single day and for the first 8 hours of a 7th consecutive work day. 

If California employees work more than 12 hours in a day, that’s double-time hours and they’re owed twice their regular rate of pay for those extra hours. On the 7th consecutive day of work, double-time rates apply for any time worked in excess of 8 hours.

Now that you know all there is to know about overtime and double time, all that’s left to do? Set up a system to track those hours!

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