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March 02, 2001
Glitch in CA Law Creates Overtime Havoc
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ifornia started out with a good intention-- exempting well-paid computer programmers from costly overtime requirements. But because the law included the word "salary" in its provisions, the law is being interpreted that any programmer who is paid by the hour must be paid overtime if they work more than 8 hours a day.

Needless to say this is causing quite a stir in the Silicon Valley, where programmers and analysts often make as much as $100 an hour, and work almost around the clock when big projects come due. The law could cost companies millions of dollars in overtime pay, and it could mean many workers wouldn't be able to work the hours they would normally like.

A key difference from federal law

AB60 took effect in January, and exempts certain workers who are paid at least $1,993.33 per month in salary. Although most hourly programmers and analysts make at least that much -- they are still not exempted if they are paid by the hour. Under federal law, computer workers earning at least $27.63 per hour are considered exempt.

The Industrial Welfare Commission has been asked to create an exemption for these professionals, which would be similar to the federal exemption already allowed. It could take several months for the agency to decide if it will grant the exemption, so meanwhile many employers believe that overtime must be paid to hourly programmers if they work more than 8 hours a day.

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