Employment Law -- Employee

Search for an Attorney  

Overtime

Most employees in the U.S. are eligible for overtime pay when their work hours exceed a threshold during a particular period. Employers must understand overtime pay laws because payroll is often the company's most significant expense. Employees must understand the overtime rules to ensure their employer pays them the correct amount.

This page gives a broad overview of the overtime pay rules. It links to more detailed articles that can help you answer specific questions. Because overtime laws vary by state, we suggest consulting an employment law attorney in a city near you to give you the best advice about your unique circumstances.

What Are the Federal Laws for Overtime?

The U.S. Department of Labor's Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") contains the federal overtime provisions. Under the FLSA, an employer must pay a non-exempt employee premium pay of at least one and one-half times (also referred to as time and a half) the employee's regular rate of pay for hours worked over 40 in a work week. Overtime pay is due on the regular payday for the pay period in which the employee worked overtime.

The FLSA does not limit the number of hours employees over 16 can work. It also does not require overtime wages for regular days of rest such as weekends and holidays unless the employee works overtime hours on those days. For instance, under the FLSA, an employee who works on a Sunday is not entitled to overtime pay unless they exceed 40 hours in their work week.

What Employees Does the FLSA Cover?

The FLSA can cover employees in two ways: enterprise and individual.

  1. Enterprise coverage applies to employees who work for an employer with at least two employees where the employer has at least $500,000 per year in sales. The FLSA also applies to hospitals, nursing homes, schools and preschools, and government agencies.
  2. Individual coverage applies to employees whose work regularly involves them in commerce or the production of goods for commerce, like factory workers or people who travel to other states for their jobs. Domestic service workers, such as maids or full-time babysitters, qualify for individual coverage under the FLSA.

Which Employees Are Exempt From Overtime?

The FLSA classifies employees based on whether they are eligible for overtime compensation. The employer must pay non-exempt employees for overtime while it does not have to do so for non-exempt employees. The overtime exemption typically applies to salaried employees and employees with unconventional work schedules and tasks.

The FLSA lists the following five categories of exempt employees:

  1. Administrative Employees exercise independent judgment and display a high level of confidentiality. Their work is typically non-manual office work directly related to the business's management or general business operations.
  2. Computer Employees have significant knowledge and experience in the computer field, such as computer programmers, computer systems analysts, and software engineers. To be exempt, computer employees must earn at least $684 per week in gross pay or $27.63 per hour if paid hourly.
  3. Executives manage a business, a company department, or a company branch. They must also have the authority to hire or fire other employees or to make recommendations for the hiring, firing, or promotion of other employees. Executives must also earn at least $684 per week.
  4. Outside Sales Employees regularly work outside the employer's place of business and whose primary duty is making sales or obtaining orders for services or facility use. These employees do not have a minimum weekly salary requirement.
  5. Professional Employees fall into two categories: learned and creative professionals. Both must meet the minimum $684 per week salary requirement.
    1. Learned professionals are those whose work requires advanced knowledge, such as accountants, architects, chemists, doctors, engineers, lawyers, professors, and teachers.
    2. Creative professionals, on the other hand, are in professions that require imagination, invention, or talent in a recognized artistic or creative field. Examples include actors, cartoonists, musicians, and writers.

Are Employers Required to Pay Overtime to Employees Who Work Outside the Office?

Technology allows many employees to work outside of the office. The FLSA does not distinguish between overtime work performed at the office and remote overtime work. So, the employer must pay a non-exempt employee overtime when it requires or permits employees to work over 40 hours, regardless of whether the employee works in the office or out of it.

The "required and permitted" language means that the employer should provide authorization for the employee to earn overtime while working outside the office. For instance, an employee may not be entitled to overtime for checking email on the weekend when the employer did not intend for the employee to do so.

The avoid confusion, the employer should provide express and explicit instructions on what kind of overtime it authorizes.

What Are the State Laws for Overtime?

Some states have overtime laws in addition to the FLSA. When an employee is subject to both state and federal overtime laws, the employee is entitled to overtime according to whichever law pays the higher overtime pay.

California has state overtime laws. In addition to requiring overtime for hours over 40 in a work week, California requires employers to pay non-exempt employees time and a half when they work more than eight hours a workday. The overtime rate increases to double the employee's regular hourly rate (double time) for hours worked over 12 in a day. In addition, California requires employers to pay employees overtime on Sundays if the employee works seven days a week.

Florida overtime laws, on the other hand, largely follow the FLSA. One significant difference is that employees in physical labor jobs who work more than ten hours a day are eligible for overtime.

Texas also follows the FLSA but has additional limitations. Hospitals cannot require nurses to work overtime. Nurses can work overtime if they so choose.

Even everyday legal matters can become complex and stressful. Law Info intends to provide helpful and informative information in publishing this article and not to provide legal advice. A qualified employment lawyer can address your particular legal needs, explain the law, and represent you in court. Take the first step now and contact an attorney in your area from our directory to discuss your specific legal situation.