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Overtime Laws – Your Right to Overtime Pay

overtime laws time clock

Hourly employees always want to know about their rights to a lunch break. Heck, lunch is important to me too!

But what about overtime laws? Employees definitely want to know about overtime labor laws as well. Is overtime required? Do salary employees get overtime? What are the regulations?

This article should answer your overtime questions.

Multiple laws for overtime

Overtime is one of those legal topics that is covered by a tangled web of laws. In short, the federal government has a basic overtime law that covers most hourly workers in the United States. There are also state overtime laws which might provide a higher standard in your case. In that situation, the higher standard applies.

Federal overtime law

The federal government requires overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). If you are a covered, nonexempt employee, your employer must pay 1.5 times your regular pay for any hours over 40 that you work in a workweek.

You can get a quick overview of the federal overtime pay laws in Fact Sheet 23 (PDF) from the U.S. Department of Labor.

But what do all those bolded terms mean? That’s the complicated part.

Non-covered employees

Some occupations and jobs are completely excluded from coverage of the FLSA. This means that the federal overtime laws don’t apply.

To figure out if a particular job situation is excluded from federal overtime requirements, try the Department of Labor’s elaws advisor. It will walk you through a series of questions to determine if the FLSA covers the job in question.

Exempt from overtime

Even if your job is generally covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act, you still might not be entitled to overtime pay. Covered employees are either exempt or nonexempt. If you are an exempt employee, you don’t get overtime pay, according to the federal overtime laws.

Here are a few different occupations that are exempt. Even these listed jobs are subject to various tests to ensure that the employees do actually meet the overtime exemptions. Some exempt jobs include:

  • Executive
  • Administrative
  • Professional
  • Computer-related
  • Outside sales
  • Salary-based exemption
  • High-compensation exemption

Your workweek

The 40 hour requirement is based on your workweek. This doesn’t mean a calendar week. A workweek for overtime pay purposes is a fixed and regularly recurring period of 168 hours (seven consecutive 24-hour periods).

Your employer can establish different workweeks for different groups of employees, or even single employees. So your workweek could be different from all of your coworkers.

But your employer can’t average hours between weeks. That is strictly prohibited.

That hopefully explains the federal overtime regulations, but what about state overtime requirements?

State overtime laws

If your state has enacted overtime laws that are more stringent than the federal laws, your employer must follow the requirements set forth by your state. That provides more protection for you as an employee, but it certainly make it more complicated to understand overtime laws.

Here are some of the states that have more stringent overtime pay requirements. This is a broad overview, so I have deliberately omitted some of the nuances to these requirements.

Alaska – Overtime pay required for any hours over 8 in a single day.

California – Overtime pay required for any hours over 8 in a single day. For over 12 hours, pay must be double time. For over 48 hours in a workweek, pay must be double time.

Colorado – Overtime pay for any hours over 12 in a single day.

Kentucky – Overtime pay required for any 7th day worked in a single workweek.

Nevada – Overtime pay required for any hours over 8 in a single day, if employee makes less than 1.5 times the state’s minimum wage.

Puerto Rico – Overtime pay required for any hours over 8 in a single day and on a statutory rest day. The overtime rate is double time (2 times the regular rate).

Virgin Islands – Overtime pay required for any hours over 8 in a single day, and on the 6th and 7th consecutive work days.

Any overtime questions?

My previous posts on labor laws spurred lots of great reader questions. Do you have questions about overtime labor laws that I didn’t cover here? Post a comment!

Photo by mbtrama

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14 Responses to “Overtime Laws – Your Right to Overtime Pay”

  1. ixle
    September 8th, 2008

    Can you site the law or laws that reflect the recent change that allows employers to no longer pay overtime if any part of the 40 hour work week is interrupted? For example: Joe works Monday through Friday. On Tuesday the boss says he has to stay over three hours for a project. On Thursday, Joe has to leave early by 30 minutes to take care of a family emergency (uses company allotted personal hours). Because Joe did not put in a full 40 hours over five eight hours shifts, the company does not pay him overtime. Joe had to put in an eleven hour day on Tuesday, but did not put in a full eight hours on Thursday. This is a messed up system.

  2. DynaMow
    September 9th, 2008

    law says overtime after 40 hours.

    Some states have state level laws. They just cannot be less then federal law.In some states employer may choose to pay overtime after 8 hours per day, but no federal law controls that.

    There is also a partial exempt employee status. Where your job responsibilities fall under exempt and non-exempt and different times. There are different overtime pay laws for that status.

    Hate just getting part of the story.

    Shouldn’t you outline the whole system if you are directing others looking for the info?

  3. Andrew Flusche
    September 9th, 2008

    @ixle – The basic federal rule is that employees only get overtime if they work more than 40 hours in a workweek. It doesn’t matter how many hours you work in a single day. But, as I note above, some states do provide overtime pay if you work more than X hours in a single day.

    @DynaMow – No single web page is going to be able to cover the entire subject of overtime law. My goal here is to provide an overview and then cover individual reader questions. That’s why I invited questions. It’s not like I’m hiding the ball or anything.

    Yes, some employees have partial exemption from overtime requirements. Notably, overtime for “dual-function” paramedics is calculated based on a longer work schedule.

  4. Chris Foster
    October 4th, 2008

    We have “Exempt” Production Supervisors who manage a team of employees who are nonexempt. On occassion, but not normally, the supervisors may perform the work of their employees, but normally, perform managerial duties.

    I have 2 questions:
    1. My HR Manager said that someone in the FLSA, there is a statement about “Production Managers”. If they work more then 48 hours, they can get overtime? I can’t locate anything like this. Do you know if there is anything in the FLSA that recognizes Production Supervisors as getting overtime?

    2. If our Production Supervisors fill in for an employee on their “off-hours” and work the line – meaning, on a shift or day they are not normally scheduled to work, how do we pay them? Do we post them in the HRPS records of having two jobs and pay them 2 different ways? Do we base these hours worked as Overtime and pay them time and one-half?


  5. Andrew Flusche
    October 4th, 2008

    @Chris – Unfortunately, you’re getting into some pretty complex legal advice. You should contact an employment lawyer who is licensed in your jurisdiction. You definitely want to get this right.

  6. Adam
    November 4th, 2008

    Can you provide some more details on Florida overtime laws? Someone I know is swearing that overtime is due for time over eight hours daily, but I can’t find a legal source for it – the manual labor overtime for ten hours is the closest I’ve found.

    Kind of important to me, as I work lots of long shifts at my job and I’d like to know whether I should be getting that extra pay.

  7. Andrew Flusche
    November 4th, 2008

    @Adam – To my knowledge, Florida does not have this requirement. Some states do, but I do not know of a Florida law that requires overtime for hours over 8 in a single day. You should contact a Florida attorney or the Florida labor department.

  8. Sky Montana
    December 10th, 2008

    I have a question about California Overtime Laws. Is there a “6th day” overtime requirement? For instance, lets say someone works 7 days in a row during a work week, but only 4 hours each day. Would they receive overtime for their 6th and 7th days? Or just the 7th? Or neither?

  9. Andrew Flusche
    December 10th, 2008

    @Sky – I don’t know of any such requirement in California. Kentucky requires overtime pay for the 7th consecutive day of work, but I don’t think California does. You should contact the California labor department for more information.

  10. California
    December 29th, 2008

    My questions/scenario is in California If an employee works the night shift and begins a shift at 6pm on Friday at the end of one work week and ends the shift at 4am (with 1hour break) the beginning of a different work week. Is the employee still receive overtime?

  11. kris couls
    July 23rd, 2009

    I work as an emt on an ambulance. For a year in a half i worked 2 shifts on the same day but was not paid overtime on the second shift. Our company policy states a workday is from 0700 to 0659 the next day. I worked from 8am-6pm got 2 hours of overtime for going 2 hours over the 8 in one day. I then worked another shift from 8pm-4am the same day and was only paid straight time throughout the 8 hours. Am i entiltled to overtime on the second shift???

  12. Davis
    September 10th, 2009

    We are an IT Department employees, My employer have us on a weekend rotation, one of us work one weekend at a time and they want us to “monitor” the network: Friday 6-10pm (saturday we work from 8:30 to 2pm (this time is getting paid) , but from 2pm thru 10pm we need to monitor and from 10am to 6pm on Sundays they want us to monitor, but we will only be paid for 4 hours, I want to ask, is being “Stand By” but checking any emails that comes in constitute a Job activity? Is this legal?

  13. Virginia
    September 20th, 2009

    I don’t know if I missed the answer to the question or not, however is Overtime in the state of Virginia required, They always tell us that it is mandtory and then we have to sign off on the paperwork. Please let me know because I am workin almost another 8hrs that is spread over the cousre of a week and I am still working my regular shit.

  14. Joseph
    October 8th, 2009

    We work in a warehouse and gets paid hourly. Recently, my boss just told us that overtime pay starts after the 30 mins after the 8 hour of your regular work hour. which means if you get off at 5:00pm you do not get paid over time if you punch out on 5:25pm. You only get over time pay if you punch out 5:31pm. Is this correct?

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