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When you go to work for someone, you should ask how they will schedule your workdays and hours. You likely have a good idea of the hours you want to work. You might want a limited set of hours so you can spend time with family, or you may want as many hours as a workplace will give you.

Some workplaces offer standard, eight hour workdays, with workday schedules lasting from Monday through Friday or staggered throughout the week. Other employers may require you to work overtime. You may wonder if this is legal. According to the California Department of Industrial Relations, workplaces do have the legal right to require nonexempt employees to perform overtime work.

Overtime and workplace discipline

The state of California has no problem with a workplace requiring overtime if a workplace schedules the overtime as part of the work schedule and hours of an employee. If you know you have overtime coming and refuse to do it, a workplace may take disciplinary action against you. Your employer could sanction you or even terminate your employment.

Taking a day of rest

However, an employer cannot require you to work overtime if it interferes with you taking a day of rest. California law gives workers the right to take off time from work to rest on the seventh day of the workweek. So a workplace cannot demand you forgo your day of rest to work overtime. An employer that tries to punish you for not working on a day of rest could receive legal penalties. However, if you understand your rights under law, you may of your own free will choose not to take your day of rest.

Some people have no problem with overtime and welcome the opportunity to work more hours. Be aware of what your employer requires so that their work schedule does not surprise you. If you feel your employer is infringing on your rights by requiring unfair overtime or is punishing you for taking a legal rest day, you may have a legal claim against your employer.