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Featured / October 11, 2023

Navigating Pay Structures: Understanding the Difference Between Salary and Hourly Pay in California

As an esteemed employment law firm in California, our dedication lies in advocating for the rights of employees facing wage disputes. An essential aspect of fair compensation and compliance with California's labor laws is understanding the distinctions between salary and hourly pay. In this blog post, we will explore the differences between these pay structures, empowering potential clients to comprehend their pay arrangements and seek equitable resolutions in the workplace.

Hourly Pay: Embracing Flexibility

Hourly pay is a prevalent compensation method where employees are paid for the exact number of hours worked. California law designates non-exempt employees for hourly pay, entitling them to receive overtime pay when they exceed 8 hours in a workday or 40 hours in a workweek. Hourly pay offers flexibility for both employers and employees, ensuring accurate compensation based on actual work hours.

Salary Pay: A Fixed Compensation

Conversely, salary pay provides employees with a predetermined amount of compensation over a designated period, often expressed as an annual salary. Exempt employees, who meet specific salary and job duties criteria, are eligible for salary pay. These employees are exempt from certain wage and hour protections, including overtime pay, meal and rest breaks, and timekeeping requirements.

Overtime Eligibility:

One of the most significant disparities between salary and hourly pay is overtime eligibility. Hourly employees, considered non-exempt workers, are entitled to overtime pay when they exceed their regular 40-hour workweek or 8-hour workday. In contrast, salary employees, as exempt workers, do not receive overtime pay, regardless of the number of hours they work beyond their regular schedule.

Benefits and Protections:

Hourly employees may be entitled to additional benefits and protections under California labor laws. They have the right to meal and rest breaks, minimum wage protection, and accurate record-keeping of their hours worked. Salary employees, being exempt workers, may have different benefits and protections based on their job classification and specific employment agreement.

Time Tracking:

Hourly employees are required to accurately track their work hours, as their compensation is directly linked to the time spent working. Employers must maintain detailed records of hourly employees' work hours to ensure proper payment. Salary employees, on the other hand, are not subject to time tracking requirements, as their compensation remains fixed regardless of their actual work hours.

Classification and Misclassification:

Properly classifying employees as hourly or salary is crucial for employers to comply with labor laws. Misclassification of employees can lead to wage disputes and potential legal consequences. As an employment law firm, we can assist employees who believe they have been misclassified and seek appropriate compensation.


In the ever-evolving landscape of employment laws, understanding the differences between salary and hourly pay is a crucial step in safeguarding employee rights. Hourly pay offers flexibility and overtime benefits, while salary pay provides stability for exempt employees. By knowing your pay structure and the protections it entails, you can confidently pursue fair compensation and assert your interests in the workplace. As a dedicated employment law firm, our mission is to stand by your side, advocate for your rights, and seek just resolutions for any wage disputes you may face. Whether you have encountered unpaid wages, missed breaks, or unreimbursed expenses, we are here to offer expert guidance and unwavering support. Your rights matter, and we are here to protect them.

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