What to Know

Working Off The Clock in California

Working Off The Clock in California Los Angeles, California.

If you have worked “off-the-clock” without compensation, you may be able to file a claim for unpaid wages. Call 888-762-0297 to discuss your options.

We do not charge for consultations.

We represent clients in Los Angeles and the state of California.

What counts as working off-the-clock?

In Los Angeles and everywhere else in California, working off-the-clock is when you perform work for your employer, and they know – or should know about the work but do not pay you. Common examples of this include your employer:

  • Changing your timesheet after you enter your hours,
  • Not paying you for work done either at the start of or the end of your shift,
  • Shaving time off the hours, you submit on your timesheet,
  • Limiting the number of hours you can put on your timesheet even if you work more, or
  • Automatically deducting a meal period even if you don’t take one.

Is it illegal to work off-the-clock in California?

Under California and federal wage and hour laws, working off-the-clock without compensation is illegal. Also, in 2018, the California Supreme Court held that even working a few minutes off-the-clock per shift is considered a violation of California law (Troester v. Starbucks Corp).

Get the help of an employment lawyer in California to get the compensation you are rightfully entitled to.

Working off-the-clock laws for salaried employees

In California, an employee is generally entitled to be paid for all hours worked. However, an employee correctly classified as “salaried” is generally not covered by off-the-clock laws.

Note: it is not uncommon for employers to misclassify employees as salaried. Speak with an attorney to find out whether you have been misclassified as an exempt employee.

If your employer requires you to work additional hours without compensation for working off-the-clock, you may have a wage and hour violation claim for unpaid wages and other damages.

Working off-the-clock laws for hourly employees

Non-exempt hourly employees must be paid for all hours worked. An employer cannot require employees to work off-the-clock without pay. If you volunteered to work off-the-clock, your employer must still pay you for the additional hours worked.

Typical examples of working off-the-clock in California

Some of the most common examples of working off-the-clock in California include:

  • Correcting and redoing work off-the-clock
  • Staying late after your shift is over to finish work
  • Going to work early without punching in because your employer asked you to do so
  • Performing administrative work such as attending meetings and reviewing documentation outside your regular work hours and without pay
  • Taking work home to complete a project on your own time
  • Answering work-related emails and phone calls after your workday ends
  • Putting away tools after clocking out for your shift
  • Driving from one work site to another as part of your duties without being paid for drive time

If you believe that you are working off-the-clock without pay, you need to contact an employment lawyer to discuss your situation.

Can you lose a job for refusing to work off-the-clock?

If your employer fires you for refusing to work off-the-clock, they may be violating California and federal wage and hour laws. State and federal laws prohibit employers from retaliating against employees for asserting their wage and hour rights.

Since each case is unique, you should discuss your particular situation with an experienced attorney to determine whether or not you can sue your employer for wrongful termination or retaliation – in addition to unpaid wages, after you refuse to work off-the-clock without pay.

Can your boss call/text/email you off-the-clock in California?

If you feel obligated to return a work-related phone call from your boss or answer an email while off-the-clock, you may be entitled to compensation even if answering the call, text, or email only takes 5-10 minutes of your time.

When can you sue your employer for making you work off-the-clock without pay?

If your employer requires you to work off-the-clock without compensating you for the extra work, you can file a complaint with California’s Division of Labor Standards Enforcement or file a case in Court.

If you successfully sue your employer for making you work off-the-clock, you can recover unpaid wages, unpaid overtime, liquidated damages, attorneys’ fees, and possibly other penalties.

What documentation do you need to file a lawsuit?

Filing a wage and hour claim and winning a lawsuit against your employer are two different things. You need to ensure that you have all the necessary evidence and documentation to prove a violation and hold your employer responsible for making you work off-the-clock without compensation. Fortunately, California law provides employees with a right to inspect or copy their employee files. Employers are subject to penalties if they illegally fail to allow their current or former employees to do so.

An employment lawyer will help you file a lawsuit against your employer for the unpaid wages you are owed.

What is the statute of limitation to file a lawsuit for working off-the-clock?

Under California law, depending upon the nature of the claim, the statute of limitations is usually between one and four years.

You can sue your employer even if you are a former employee. If you were fired for refusing to work off-the-clock, your attorney could help you pursue a retaliation or wrongful termination lawsuit against your employer.

Penalties for not complying with working off-the-clock laws

Suppose your employer forced you to work off-the-clock without pay. In that case, you can seek unpaid wages, any unpaid overtime, liquidated damages, attorneys’ fees, and potentially other remedies, including additional penalties if you are no longer working for the employer. Speak with a wage and hour attorney to review your situation and determine what damages are available in your case.

For more information

To discuss your case, call us at 888-762-0297 and ask to speak with an attorney who handles working off-the-clock cases.

Your consultation will be confidential, informative, and free.

We take all cases on contingency and advance all costs - which we only are reimbursed if we successfully recover on your behalf.

We represent clients in Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego, San Bernardino, Santa Clara, San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland, Orange County, and the rest of California.

Last updated on September 9, 2021.

Additional Resources

• Working off the clock for several minutes per shift - Supreme Court Decision

•How working off the clock laws are enforced