Overtime – what it is and when you should get it

Are you getting paid for all the time you work?

Getting paid for a hard day’s work is one of the cornerstones of what makes America great. We pride ourselves on having an enviable labor system that incentivizes employees to give companies their best in exchange for great work. However, it hasn’t always been this way: in the 1930’s employees all over the country went up in arms to protest unfair compensation by employers, asking the government to come to their aid. After the matter was looked into, the government came up with the Fair Labor Standards Act or FLSA which seeks to protect the rights of all workers, ensuring that they are paid a fair wage for a hard day’s work. Part of the FLSA mandates that employers pay one and one-half times pay for overtime. Could you be entitled to overtime which your employer is not paying? This article will highlight some of your rights as an employee.

Exempt Employees

The FLSA does not apply to everyone. The law carves out an exception for exempt employees. Before discussing how the law defines exempt employees, it is important to note that many employers misclassify employees as exempt employees in order to avoid paying overtime. If you work more than 40 hours per week and are not being paid time and one half, you need to examine if you are an exempt employee.
Exempt employees are “bona fide executive, administrative, professional and outside sales employees.” It is important to note, a job title alone is not sufficient to classify an employee as exempt. Click here for a comprehensive list of exempt positions.

When does overtime apply?

There is no requirement that an employer pay time and one half for work on weekends, nights or holidays. There is no limit on the number of hours an employer requires and employee to work in one week. The only requirement under the FLSA is that the employer pay time and one half for hours over 40 in one week. On March 13, 2014, President Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum directing the Department of Labor to update the regulations defining which workers are protected by the FLSA’s overtime standards. Previously, the threshold was only $23,660. This meant that managers at fast food restaurants could be forced to work over 40 hours per week without overtime if they made over $23,660, or $11.37/hour. Now, in 2016, the salary level will be $970 per week, or $50,440 per year. This means that anyone making less than this amount must be paid time and one half for hours above 40 per week.

What constitutes a work week?

The FLSA requires overtime to be paid for hours in excess of 40 in a “workweek.” A work week need not be a calendar week, an employee’s scheduled week or even a pay period. A workweek under FLSA is a fixed, regularly-recurring period of 168 hours – that is, seven, consecutive, 24-hour periods. If you work irregular shifts, “forced” shifts or anything other than a typical workweek, you should consult with an attorney if your employer is violating the FLSA by not paying you the overtime you are entitled under the law.

If my employer does not pay me overtime, what are my rights?

If an employer could withhold overtime and merely pay you the overtime if they got caught, there would be no incentive to pay employees properly. So, for employers who do not file the overtime laws, an employee can recover double the amount of overtime owed. Additionally, as an incentive for lawyers to handle overtime cases, the law provides that the employer is responsible for paying for the legal fees should an overtime violation be discovered. In this way, it does not cost an employee any attorney fees to exercise their rights to be paid what they are entitled under the law.

Owed Overtime? Get Legal Help Today!

If you believe that you’re owed overtime by your employer, don’t hesitate; call us today at (773)-779-9885 for your FREE consultation into overtime pay disputes. An experienced workers compensation attorney can investigate your claim at no cost to determine whether you may be entitled to unpaid overtime. Thanks, and we look forward to helping you get justice and compensation for your hard work.