The Fair Labor Standards Act sets federal minimums for overtime pay for most employees, but this only covers a basic time-and-a-half overtime pay rate for those who work over 40 hours a week. California is the only state that requires double-time pay, but some companies and unions offer this pay rate though they are not legally required to do so.

When You Get Overtime

Employees who qualify for overtime earn time-and-a-half for all hours worked more than eight hours up until they work a twelve-hour shift in one workday. They also get time-and-a-half for up to eight hours if they work seven consecutive days in a workweek. Employees will also get overtime if they work more than 40 hours in a workweek as mandated by federal law. Double-time pay begins once the employee works more than twelve hours in a workday or if they work more than eight hours on the seventh consecutive day of a workweek.

Some companies and unions may voluntarily choose to offer employees double time pay, but when employees qualify for this form of overtime may vary from company-to-company. Some companies will pay double time on holidays, some after 10 hours of work, some after 12 and some may offer it on weekends. If your company offers double time, it is best to check the handbook to find out when it kicks in.

Who Gets Double-Time Pay?

While most employees in California qualify for double time, exempt employees do not. Exempt employees are defined as those who make over $455 per week and operate in certain fields including executive, administrative, professional and outside sales employees.

The definitions of a workday and a workweek may affect whether or not an employee qualifies for overtime. An employer may choose to start a workday at any hour of the day as long as it is the same every day. The same applies to workweeks. In other words, a company could start the workday at noon or even 8 p.m. if they choose to do so and they could start the workweek on Tuesday or Friday. No matter what though, the employee will only get overtime if they work more than eight hours on one workday or more than seven days in one workweek.

As an example, say an employer starts the workday at noon and the workweek on Wednesday. If an employee works a shift that stretches from 6 a.m.-to-8 p.m. and does not work any other hours during those two "workdays," then she would not get any overtime because she technically worked only six hours one workday and eight the next, even though the shifts were consecutive. On the other hand, if the shift stretched from noon-to-2 a.m., she would get four hours of overtime pay and two hours of double-time pay. Similarly, if the employee worked four hours every day from Sunday to Saturday and did not work any other days that week, she would not get overtime because she technically worked only three days in one week and four days the next week, even though the days were consecutive. If that employee worked Wednesday through Tuesday though, she would get paid overtime for any work completed on Tuesday.

How to Calculate Double Time Pay

While calculating basic overtime can be difficult, and many people rely on a time-and-a-half calculator to figure out what the overtime rate may be, double-time pay is a little easier to figure out because instead of calculating 1.5 times the original hourly pay, you need only double the original hourly pay. In other words, if someone earns $15 an hour, he would earn $22.50 (1.5 times $15) for most overtime work and $30 (2 times $15) for double time.

Things become a little more complex when you are calculating overtime pay for a salaried employee as you must first figure out his hourly rate. If an employee is paid a yearly salary, you will need to divide that number first by the number of weeks in a year (52), then by the number of hours in a week (40). This will give you the employee's hourly rate, which you can then use to calculate overtime. For example, if an employee receives $60,000 a year, then she will earn $1,153.85 per week ($60,000 divided by 52) and $28.85 per hour ($1,153.85 divided by 40). That means her basic overtime rate would be $43.27 ($28.85 times 1.5) and the double time rate would be $57.70 ($28.85 times two).