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Overtime for California Computer Professionals (Unpaid Overtime)

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California employees in the IT and computer software industry, including computer professionals, IT professionals and computer programmers may be entitled to overtime pay. Both federal law and most state laws require overtime pay for such professional employees who work more than 40 hours per week unless the employee is classified as exempt.


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Overtime Pay for California Computer Professionals and High Tech Employees

it programmer unpaid overtimeTo be exempt from overtime under California law, a computer professional must have job duties that meet certain requirements, which are open to interpretation. If you think you have been misclassified, you might want to consult a qualified employment attorney.

To be exempt, your job must meet ALL of the following requirements:
  1. Your duties must require “discretion and independent judgment,” which generally means that the employee must have independent authority to make decisions. For instance, if most of your time doing programming is based on detailed instructions provided to you by others, you may be entitled to overtime.
  2. You must be “highly skilled” and “proficient in the theoretical and practical application of highly specialized information to computer systems analysis, programming, or software engineering.” Such an employee has achieved a high level of learning either on the job or in school. Trainees and entry-level personnel are specifically not exempt from overtime.
  3. Your primary job duties (at least 50 percent of their time) must involve at least one of the following:
  • Applying systems analysis techniques and procedures, including consulting with users, to determine hardware, software, or system functional specifications;
  • Design, development, documentation, analysis, creation, testing, or modification of computer systems or programs, including prototypes, based on and related to user or system design specifications;
  • The documentation, testing, creation, or modification of computer programs related to the design of software or hardware for computer operating systems.
  • If you are a programmer, you make over the minimum salary below, and you have control over most of the work you do, you may be exempt.

California State Labor Law for Computer Professionals: Rate of Pay

California Labor Code Section 515.5 provides that certain computer software employees are exempt from the overtime requirements if certain criteria are met. One of the criteria is that the employee's hourly rate of pay is not less than the statutorily specified rate, which the Department of Industrial Relations is responsible for adjusting on October 1st of each year to be effective on January 1st of the following year by an amount equal to the percentage increase in the California Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers.

A minimum salary must be paid to computer professionals to be exempt from overtime. This changes every year and is updated October 1st. Even if you earn more than these minimum amounts, you may still be entitled to overtime pay depending on your exact job duties. As well, if you were paid under the minimum rate for programming work any time in the last four years, you might be eligible to recover unpaid overtime, regardless of your job duties.
  Year         Hourly        Annual       
2021 $47.48 $98,907.70  
2020 $46.55 $96,968.33  
2019 $45.41 $94,603.25  
2018 $43.58 $90,790.07  
2017 $42.35 $87,185.14  


If you are a current or former employee in the IT, computer or software profession in California and you have worked more than eight hours per day or more than 40 hours per week but have not been paid overtime, you may be entitled to unpaid wages, overtime, interest and related amounts if:
  • You are under the minimum salary;
  • You are a trainee or work in an entry level position;
  • You spend most of your time executing instructions given to you by others;
  • You mainly provide technical support and handle technical issues;
  • Most of your work is testing/debugging;
  • Your main task is software implementation.

Click on the link below to submit your overtime complaint.

Last updated on


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Posted by

I was labeled exempt and paid salary under $53K a year for seven years until I got laid off this year for no apparent reason. All the company said was that it was re-constructing its IT Dep. Gave me severance pay as well for being a good employee and the years of service. I was labeled as a Computer Applications Specialist and my pay grade was suppose to be at least $67K to $77K but was not even close. Worked over 40 hours a week at times for the past seven years. Never got paid OT at all, and because I was exempt, I would only put 40 hours a week on my timesheet even though I worked overtime.

Posted by

No matter how many hours I worked, I got paid at the same flat rate, approx. $44/hour, under the guise that I was a "contractor."

For four years, I put in 90 hours a week, 52 weeks a year without vacation or benefits. Now, I'm being told that I have been classified as an employee of Computer Task Group for the past eight years, and am not a contractor.


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