The U.S. Department of Labor enforces overtime laws to ensure fair pay for employees and to prevent employers from taking advantage of workers. Most companies must comply with overtime labor laws; however, not all employees qualify for overtime pay, even if you work more than 40 hours per week.
Fair Labor Standards Act
Overtime pay laws are a part of the Fair Labor Standards Act, which protects workers. If your employer falls under the FLSA, it may be obligated to give overtime pay to full-time employees. Employers who have at least two employees and do at least $500,000 in sales per year or who conduct business across state lines must pay employees according to the FLSA. In addition, employers of domestic service workers and businesses providing medical or nursing services must also comply with the FLSA.
Employees receive overtime pay when they work more than 40 hours in a week. Under the FLSA, overtime pay must equal at least 1½ times your regular, hourly wage. If you are a salaried employee, your hourly wage is calculated by dividing your salary by the number of hours your salary compensates you for. As a full-time employee, this is usually 40 hours. The FLSA requires overtime pay on a weekly, rather than daily, basis. So if you work a 14-hour day, you are not entitled to overtime pay for working more than eight hours in a day unless your total for the week exceeds 40 hours.
Some employees are considered exempt and not entitled to overtime pay. This includes executive, administrative and professional employees who receive a salary of at least $455 per week and meet the other requirements of the exemption. These employees are usually paid a salary rather than hourly wage. For example, under the executive exemption, your main responsibility must be to run all or a branch of the enterprise. In addition, you must manage at least two employees and have the authority to hire and fire employees. Other employees who may be exempt from receiving overtime pay include outside sales professionals, farm workers and some seasonal employees.
Some states have additional overtime pay requirements, so you may qualify for overtime pay even if your employer is not required to comply with the FLSA. In addition, some states require daily overtime pay for employees who work more than eight hours in a single day regardless of their total weekly hours.
Some government agencies may offer compensatory time in place of overtime pay. This is common in law enforcement and fire protection agencies. These agencies must give employees 1½ hour of paid time off for every hour of overtime worked.
- U.S. Department of Labor: Handy Reference Guide to the Fair Labor Standards Act
- U.S. Department of Labor: Fact Sheet #14: Coverage Under the Fair Labor Standards Act
- U.S. Department of Labor: Fact Sheet #17A: Exemption for Executive, Administrative, Professional, Computer & Outside Sales Employees Under the Fair Labor Standards Act
- NOLO: Overtime Pay - Your Rights as an Employee
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