California law generally requires employers to pay employees overtime wages for hours worked in excess of eight hours in a day. However, California Labor Code section 511 allows employers to institute a regularly scheduled alternative-workweek under which employees may work more than eight hours in a day without an entitlement to overtime pay.
However, an employer cannot force its employees to adopt an alternative-workweek schedule. All employees who will be affected by an alternative-workweek schedule must have an opportunity to vote on whether such a schedule should be adopted.
More specifically, an employer has to follow four specific steps in order to implement an alternative-workweek schedule:
- First, all affected employees must receive written notice of the employer’s intent to adopt an alternative-workweek schedule. The notice must sufficiently explain the alternative-workweek schedule to all the affected employees, and the notice must be provided to the employees at least 14 days before employees vote.
- Second, acceptable alternative-workweek schedules generally may require no more than 10 hours per day and 40 hours per week from a single employee.
- Third, the employees must be allowed to participate in a secret-ballot election regarding the proposed schedule. Only the affected employees may vote in this election and at least 2/3 of the affected employees must vote in favor of an arrangement in order for it to be implemented.
- Fourth, the election results must be reported to the DLSE within 30 days after finalizing the results. The report will be a public document, and must contain the tally of the vote, the number of employees affected by the vote, and the nature of the employer’s business.
If an employer does not follow the election procedures outlined above, the alternative-workweek schedule may be invalidated and the employer can be required to retroactively pay overtime for the workweeks when employees worked the alternative-work schedule.
If you work an alternative-workweek schedule and have questions about whether or not it’s valid or if you should be getting paid overtime, please contact CJL to discuss.