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Calculating back pay you may be owed by your California employer

A recent investigation has many California workers expecting some back pay in the near future. The California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) has completed an investigation where they have found many workers who were entitled to back pay for wages owed from previous employment. Workers who were affected can expect to receive a notification letter alerting them to upcoming back pay disbursement. 

 

Who can expect to receive a check for back pay?

Under California Law, employers are required to pay their employee time and a half for any hours worked above a standard eight-hour workday with double time rates going into effect for hours in excess of 12 per workday. Double pay also is required for employees who work seven days without receiving a day off. The State of California requires that overtime must be paid even if the overtime was not authorized. There have been multiple court rulings in the state which have shown that courts feel that it is the employer's responsibility to know the number of hours their employee is working and notify them to stop working before the overtime, making the employers responsible for overtime hours accrued.

Calculating the back pay you may be owed

While it is up to the California DSLE to calculate and distribute an employee's back pay, there are some tips to figuring the amount you can receive yourself with a few careful calculations. To perform the calculations, you will need to know the number of hours you worked for your employer that they did not compensate you for.

  • Regular pay - If you are owed back pay for regular hours worked in which you were not paid you will need to total those hours and multiply them by the hourly rate to come up with your estimated back wages. For example, if you worked 100 regular hours and were not paid at an hourly rate of $15 per hour, your back pay for regular pay will be $1500.
  • Standard overtime pay - To calculate back overtime wages you will need to multiply the number of hours of overtime that you worked over eight hours a day but less than 12 at 1.5 times your hourly rate. Therefore, if your hourly rate was $15 and you worked regular days at 10 hours per day, your overtime rate would be $22.50 and you would receive $45 per day that you worked a 10-hour shift.
  • Double time pay - For calculating overtime hours in excess of 12 hours per day, or any hours over eight on the seventh day of straight work, you will need to multiply the number of hours worked over at two times your hourly rate. At double time rates, if your standard pay were $15 an hour, you would receive $30 an hour for your double time rate. 

Once you have made all of your calculations, you will need to total the amounts together to arrive at your total back pay amount that is owed. If you have employment that involves multiple per hour rates, depending on the tasks being performed, they will calculate a weighted average to determine the amount per hour for overtime that you should be paid.

Considerations when calculating your back pay

There are a few important considerations when determining if you are entitled to back pay and what amount you can expect to receive. One issue to note is that the State of California requires employers who have underpaid their employees to pay interest on the wages they failed to pay. Your interest will be calculated by the DLSE but will be limited to the state maximum of 10%.

Another consideration that is of vital importance is the statute of limitations placed on cases of unpaid wages in the State of California, which is four years. This means that if you have expected back pay, it is essential to file a wage dispute as soon as possible to allow you to file for pay you are entitled to. 

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