Mandatory Overtime for Salaried Employees

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What is Mandatory Overtime?

The federal government has created two categories for American workers that many states have also chosen to follow in regards to overtime: exempt and nonexempt. Exempt employees cannot receive overtime. These workers are paid on a salary and they are expected to work as many hours as necessary to complete the requirements of their jobs.

Exempt employees are usually higher levels of staff such as management or other independent roles. Non-exempt employees are more likely to be hourly employees. Under current federal law, an exempt employee must be paid salary and must earn at least $455 at week. However, these laws have recently been modified and as of December 1, 2016, the base salary for an exempt employee will be at a $47,476 minimum.

If a person is nonexempt from overtime, then any work they do over 40 hours a week in most states is legally billed at time-and-a-half, which is 1.5 times their regular hourly rate.

Mandatory overtime can refer to the federal government’s legal obligation to provide overtime pay for nonexempt employees. It can also refer to an employer’s decision to require overtime from its employees. Sometimes during seasonal work, for instance, or during particular projects, it is required that workers work more than 40 hours a week as part of their job description.

How Do Overtime Requirements Vary By Industry?

Some industries require overtime more than others, and some professions lend themselves to overtime more than others. Legal and administrative support staff are known to work long hours, as are hospitality staff, construction workers, and transportation employees. Because safety of employees is a primary concern of the federal government, the Fair Labor Standards Act regulates the amount of hours employees in these fields can work to ensure that they receive federally mandated overtime pay rates.

Can a Contract Forbid Overtime?

A contract can forbid overtime, but it cannot state that it will not adhere to federal regulations regarding overtime pay if overtime does occur. A contract must be legal in order for its terms to be binding.

Conversely, forced overtime, or mandatory overtime, is absolutely legal as long as federal overtime pay rates are met and the employee is not put at any safety risk, or putting others at safety risk, during the overtime performance.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

If you believe you have worked overtime that you have not been paid for, it is best to speak with an employment attorney right away. An attorney can advise you of your rights and help you make the best possible case.

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Last Modified: 01-17-2017 07:35 PM PST

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