Day of Rest

“Can my employees work 10 days in a row when we’re really busy? Do I have to pay overtime or double time when they do?”

Your HR Survival Tip

Terminology reigns when answering your question. Before you can look at an employee’s time, you must determine your company’s official 7-day week… this is legally called a “workweek.” Among other things, your workweek determines when you owe overtime for employees working more than the standard 5-day week. Your workweek doesn’t move around; you make a decision and stick with it.

The courts and California law have stated employees must have off at least one day out of every 7-day workweek… that’s their day of rest. Whenever an employee works ALL 7 days of your workweek, the 7th day will automatically be overtime.

If your workweek is the standard Monday – Sunday, this doesn’t mean every Sunday is automatically overtime pay. This means the employee must work at least a little every single day of the workweek for Sunday to be the 7th day worked in that workweek. If they had any of those days off, they’ve had a day of rest so there isn’t a 7th day worked in that workweek. For example, working one hour Monday through Sunday would mean Sunday’s hour is overtime because it’s the 7th day of that workweek. However, if they worked one hour Tuesday through Sunday, there is no 7th day overtime because they had Monday off.

This gets more interesting when looking at a 2-week period. Your workweek doesn’t change but an employee may work more days in a row without bumping into the 7-day overtime rule. For example, if the employee worked Tuesday through Sunday the first week, they had Monday off so there is no 7th day in that workweek. Then if they continue working Monday through Saturday of the 2nd week, they have Sunday off and no 7th day worked during that workweek. This means they worked a total of 12 days in a row without hitting the 7th-day rule.

You pay overtime if the employee works more than 8 hours in any day, as usual in California. You would also pay overtime if the employee’s regular hours (the first 8 hours in any day) total more than 40 hours for that workweek, which usually means a full-time employee worked 6+ days. But the clock and calendar both start over every Monday if you are using the Monday-Sunday workweek.

Generally, it’s not a good idea to have employees work more than 6 days in a row for two reasons: overtime and hazards. The overtime messes with your profit margin. In addition, you are likely to burn out that employee, and, when employees are tired, productivity drops, and safety becomes an issue. It’s fine if it’s just a short-term need but make sure there aren’t other alternatives if you need the extra help for a longer period of time.

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