What Is Considered Full Time in California?

The Affordable Care Act reduced the full-time threshold from 40 hours to 30 hours regarding when certain employers must offer healthcare.

Outside of the ACA, however, it is still up to the states to decide minimum hours for full-time work.

Are you wondering, What is considered full-time in California? In California, full-time employment is typically defined as working between 32 and 40 hours per week. However, it's crucial to understand that under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), individuals are generally considered part-time if they work fewer than 30 hours per week and full-time if they work 30 hours a week or more.

This is important to know because whether someone is full-time determines whether they receive certain benefits.

what is considered full time in california

California Overtime Laws

Under the Affordable Care Act, employers with more than 49 employees must offer healthcare to employees that work at least 30 hours weekly. Non-compliant employers must pay a tax penalty.

Smaller businesses have the option to offer healthcare, but any business that does offer benefits must do so uniformly to all full-time employees.

For full-time California employees, the 40-hour workweek and 8-hour shift is the norm. Employers must pay overtime for time worked over eight hours in a day. Overtime pay is 1.5 times the employee’s regular rate of pay for between 8 and 12 hours in a day.

If the employee works longer than 12 hours in one shift, overtime is double their regular rate for the additional hours.

Employees that work more than six consecutive days earn overtime for the seventh day, and their rate doubles for any time worked over eight hours on the seventh day.

If the employer offers an alternate work-week program (e.g. fewer days worked but more hours worked per day), the maximum allowed is a ten-hour shift. An employer must pay overtime for longer shifts. 

Certain employees are exempt from overtime law, specifically executive, administrative, and professional employees earning at least twice the minimum wage.

Executive employees are those with management duties, and administrative employees manage policies or general business operations. Professional employees have specialized education.

They either maintain a California license (e.g., lawyers, doctors, engineers) or work in a “learned or artistic” profession.

Independent contractors and union members in certain industries (i.e. film, broadcasting, commercial drivers, construction, security, public utilities, and wholesale baking) are also exempt.

Benefits and Mandatory Breaks

California employees that regularly work at least eight-hour shifts must receive a minimum of four hours of pay for any day where they have to report but do not work their full shift.

This might occur where an employee is on call or required to check in every day for their schedule, or if they are sent home because of a lack of work.  

California does not require that employers provide paid time off (PTO) for employees. However, any PTO given is part of the employee’s earnings and never expires. If the employment terminates, the employer must pay out the employee’s unused vacation time. 

By law, employees must receive a 30-minute meal break for every five hours worked. If the nature of their job prohibits them from being off-duty, their meal breaks must be paid.

California employees must also receive a mandatory paid ten-minute rest period for every four hours worked.

Employers must also provide breastfeeding employees with reasonable break accommodations, which can run concurrently with their mandated breaks.

An employee cannot work more than 12 consecutive hours in a 24-hour period. However, there is an exception for employees in health care professions where overtime is necessary for emergency situations or because their relief does not report for duty.

Employers cannot require employees to work more than 16 hours in a 24-hour period without a voluntary mutual agreement.

And employees cannot work more than 24 consecutive hours until they receive eight hours off-duty immediately following the first 24 hours of work.

Independent Contractors

Employment status determines the extent of an employer’s duties to its workers. Independent contractors receive a specified amount for a specified task and retain control over how the task is performed.

They are not eligible for the same benefits as employees, such as overtime and mandatory breaks. They must also pay all their own employment taxes to the IRS.

Employers can get into big trouble for misclassifying employees as independent contractors.

Workers who believe they have been misclassified can bring a wage and hour claim against their employer for status determination and compensation.

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Wage and Hour Claims

Eligible employees can bring wage and hour claims with the Labor Commissioner for employment violations. The Department of Industrial Relations will investigate the workplace and interview the employer and its employees.

Most of these disputes settle without a hearing. For cases that cannot settle, the parties have a hearing with the Labor Commissioner.

Employers that violate labor laws will pay compensation to the employee and civil penalties. For violations of rest or meal breaks, employers must compensate the employee by one hour’s pay for every break denied.

Employers that violate the minimum wage or overtime laws may have to pay unpaid wages plus interest, attorney fees, and court costs.

Starpoint Law Can Help You with Your Employment Claim

At Starpoint Law, our attorneys know the ins and outs of California and federal employment law.

We provide all our clients with the highest professional experience in all areas of employment law. The wage and hour claim process can be confusing and intimidating to someone without experience.

We can help you gather the documentation needed to support your claim, represent you at your hearings, and present your story in a way to get the best possible result.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

Author Photo

Aidin Ghavimi

Aidin is a partner at Starpoint LC, Attorneys at Law, and focuses on personal injury and employment law cases in and around Southern California. He earned his Juris Doctorate from the Loyola School of Law and his Bachelor’s from USC. Aidin’s primary goal is to bring justice to his clients and to ensure they are able to move on with their lives after a serious injury.

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