The Facts of Overtime Pay Laws

Written by on September 23, 2012 in Career - No comments | Print this page


Many employees and employers misconstrue the federal overtime rules. Usually the confusion centers on whether one is entitled to (or should pay) overtime only if the employee works more than 80 hours in a given two week pay period. However, this is not correct. Overtime is paid by the week rather than the pay period. According to a recent study by the National Employment Law Project, 77% of employees questioned did not receive overtime pay for working more than 40 hours in a given week.

The Rules

The basic rule is that if you work more than 40 hours in any given week and are not exempt then you are entitled to overtime at one and one-half your regular pay rate but unfortunately it’s not as simple as that.  A work week is considered as 168 hours in a 7 day consecutive period. It does not matter what day the work week starts, it only matters that 7 consecutive days are calculated for determining whether you worked 40 or more hours.

Certain categories of workers: executives, administrative-salaried (paid whether you work 1 or 100 hours) employees and professional employees are the most common exemptions from receiving overtime.

If you are a nonexempt employee and you work 45 hours in week one and 30 hours in week two, your employer cannot claim that you have 75 hours so you are not entitled to overtime pay. Under this scenario you are entitled to 70 hours at regular pay and 5 hours at one and one-half times pay.  Chances are that if you are not being paid overtime, then others in your company are not being paid overtime as well. One option is to contact an attorney to see if your rights have been violated- the primary overtime rules are Federal and they can carry some stiff penalties for employers who fail to pay overtime.

What You Can Do

Contact an attorney who is knowledgeable with Labor law and the laws of your state.  Often these initial consultations are free of charge and a skilled attorney can identify fairly quickly if your rights have been violated.  You are entitled to the full pay that your earned and that includes being properly paid for any work over 40 hours in a given work week. Oftentimes, understanding labor law can be complicated but with the help of a skilled and knowledgeable attorney, you can receive your fair pay.

This is a guest post.   Mercedes Potter is a writer who sets the record straight on what overtime actually is. There are easy ways to tell if you have been duped for the money your entitled to. Follow her @CedesPotter to read other blog posts she has written.


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