The Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) is what determines overtime pay requirements. Generally speaking, when an employer either allows or requires an employee to work overtime hours, they have a legal responsibility to pay the employee for that overtime work. Employees who are covered by the FLSA must receive overtime pay for hours worked that exceed forty hours in one work week.

It is important to note that the FLSA does not require overtime pay for hours worked on weekends or holidays, nor is there a set limit specified in the FLSA regarding the number of hours in any workweek. However, the overtime requirement cannot be waived by agreement between employer and employees.

Additionally, an employer cannot prevent an employee from working overtime in an attempt to avoid paying overtime rates, and the employer cannot require an advance authorization for any work that is done overtime.

Employers should keep in mind that they cannot refuse to pay for any work done overtime, if the work is covered by the FLSA. Employees have a legal and ethical right to the compensation that they worked for. Overtime pay is to be calculated on the basis of the average hourly rate derived from the earnings worked for during the workweek. These earnings may be based on a piece-rate, salary, or commission.

When Is Overtime Pay Required?

As of January 1, 2020, the Department of Labor issued new policies which address overtime pay. These updated policies will ensure that more than one million American workers will receive overtime pay when they may not have under the previous guidelines. One of the most notable changes increased the minimum salary requirement for FLSA overtime exemptions, as well as the annual compensation requirement.

These guidelines allow employers to use nondiscretionary bonuses or incentive payments as a means of satisfying the required salary standard for exempt executive, administrative, and professional employees.

These new policies also altered the special salary levels for workers in US territories, as well as motion picture industries. However, because laws often vary from state to state, it is important to research local applicable guidelines for overtime pay and minimum wage.

Federal overtime laws, including the FLSA, require that overtime pay is required when an employee works more than forty hours in a one-week period. Additionally, the employee cannot be considered an exempt employee as defined by the FLSA. What constitutes an exempt employee will be further discussed below.

Overtime pay generally entails time and one-half, or, 1 ½ times the employee’s regular pay rate. An example of this would be if the employee earns $15 per hour. Once they have worked more than forty hours in one working week, they would earn $22.50 per hour of overtime worked.

What Are Some Examples of Exempt Employees?

Very simply put, an exempt employee is excused from the overtime pay requirements. It is important to note that exempt status has little to do with the actual job description or the employee’s title; rather, the term focuses on the duties and responsibilities of that employee.

Although what constitutes an exempt employee may vary by jurisdiction, an employee is generally considered to be exempt if they have more responsibilities than the average employee. Additionally, they may be an exempt employee if they perform tasks that are more managerial in nature.

Exempt employees are not required to “punch a clock,” meaning, they are generally paid a salary instead of an hourly rate. Such employees are considered to be exempt from being paid overtime because it is assumed that they are working independently, and have greater discretion in terms of how their work tasks are carried out. Additionally, even if an employee is not specifically listed as being exempt, they could fit into an overtime pay exemption category based on their daily work responsibilities.

Some examples of the most common workers that are exempt include, but may not be limited to:

  • White collar jobs that are based on a salary;
  • Independent contractors;
  • Volunteer workers;
  • Outside sales personnel;
  • Specific computer specialists;
  • Amusement parks or county fair workers;
  • Organized camps or religious conference center employees;
  • Small newspaper employees;
  • Newspaper deliverers;
  • Fishing operation employees;
  • Babysitters; and
  • Criminal investigators.

State laws address exempt and nonexempt employees as well. As such, an individual state could have its own definition of what constitutes an exempt employee, as well as the definition of what constitutes overtime.

What Happens When Overtime Pay Is Withheld? What If I Was Unsure Regarding Whether I Was Entitled to Overtime Pay?

Withholding overtime pay is considered to be illegal if the employee is entitled to overtime pay under state laws, or the FLSA. Failure to pay an employee their overtime pay as entitled is a violation of federal laws. As such, a violation can lead to consequences including:

  • A civil lawsuit for damages, resulting in payment for lost wages, lost profits, etc.;
  • Potential readjustment of management; and/or
  • A possible injunction requiring the company to change their specific wage and hour policies.

Many employees fail to receive overtime pay because they are not aware that they were actually entitled to overtime pay. If you have worked more than forty hours in one work week, and are not listed as being exempt from receiving overtime pay, you are entitled to time and a half pay.

Generally speaking, you should first speak with your employer regarding overtime pay if you work over forty hours in one week. Any disputes will generally start with an investigation conducted by the human resources department. Violations could result in further legal actions, such as a lawsuit to recover a damages award as previously mentioned.

What Are Some Common Disputes Associated With Exempt or Nonexempt Status?

As previously mentioned, neither employers nor employees are legally allowed to waive the overtime pay requirement. Should the employee file a civil lawsuit when the employer withholds their rightful overtime wages, the employee will generally be entitled to back pay for their overtime hours. They could also receive other types of damages, such as those previously discussed.

Additionally, incorrectly classifying an employee as exempt or nonexempt can result in other employment law disputes. An example of this would be furlough, or, mandatory days off with no pay. Generally speaking, furlough is not allowed for exempt employees unless they work a full week. This is due to the fact that exempt employees are usually paid for a full week’s salary. As such, they must be furloughed for one entire week, and not just one day.

Properly classifying an employee as either exempt or nonexempt is necessary in terms of employee benefits. Some common examples include, but may not be limited to:

Do I Need an Attorney For Issues Regarding No Overtime Pay Laws?

You should consult with an experienced and local employment lawyer if you have any questions or issues regarding no overtime pay laws. Because much of employment law varies on a state by state business, working with an area attorney will ensure you receive the most relevant and applicable legal advice.

An employment attorney near you will be best suited to helping you understand your state’s specific wage and overtime laws. An attorney can also help you determine whether you are an exempt or nonexempt employee, as well as whether you are owed overtime pay. Finally, an attorney will also be able to represent you in court, should any disputes and/or lawsuits arise.