To comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act, California employers must keep track of all hours that their non-exempt employees work. When employees work more than 40 hours a week, they are entitled to make at least the federal minimum wage plus overtime pay. Generally, an employee is considered to be working if he or she is under employer control even if there are no job duties being performed.
For instance, those who are working in a restaurant still have to be paid if they are under employer control even if they aren't actively serving customers. However, this doesn't mean that a worker is entitled to pay if he or she is on call. This is because the employee is in control of his or her time until or unless called into work.
Employers are also not required to pay workers if they are given a meal period of at least 30 minutes. This is often true even if the employee is not allowed to go elsewhere to eat. However, some states have enacted rules that require employers to pay their workers for meal periods if they are not allowed to leave the premises. As a general rule, an employee is allowed one meal period for a six hour shift and a second meal period for shifts of 10 hours or more.
If a worker has a claim for unpaid overtime or other possible rules violations, it may make sense to talk with an attorney. Legal counsel may be able to help an employee take action against an employer that has violated state or federal employment laws. If successful, a worker may be entitled to back pay as well as other damages to be determined by a jury or through informal settlement talks.