What Qualifies as Overtime Pay?
Under labor laws in the United State’s every worker is entitled to be fairly compensated for his labor. These labor laws protect your right to receive a set minimum compensation, called minimum wage. The labor laws also ensure that certain employees who work for more than the standard required work week are paid extra, or overtime, for this additional effort and energy expended.
Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, any work over 40 hours per week constitutes overtime pay for non-exempt employees. Under Department of Labor Laws, only non-exempt employees are entitled to be paid time and a half.
Exempt employees, or those not entitled to overtime, include commissioned salespeople, commercial drivers, mechanics, loaders & drivers helpers, airline employees, computer professionals, farmers or farm workers, babysitters or other live-out domestic employees, seasonal and recreational employers, executives, administrative staff members, professional workers and outside salespeople.
Most exempt executives, professionals, administrative workers and computer professionals are paid a salary instead of being paid hourly. Generally, if you are paid a salary, then you are exempt, although this is not always the case.
Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, if you work over 40 hours per week, you must be paid overtime on all portions of time over 40 hours per week. The definition of work is broad. If you do any activity designed to benefit your employer and your employer is aware you are doing it, then that constitutes work. This means you don’t actually have to be physically on the premises of the business to be working. You also don’t need your employer’s permission. It is enough that the employer knows you are doing the work to benefit them and doesn’t stop you from doing so.
Some states also have more stringent overtime laws that provide additional protection to workers above and beyond the protection provided by the Fair Labor Standards Act. In some of these states, you are entitled to overtime if you work for seven days in a row. In others, you are entitled to overtime if you work more than eight hours in any one single day.
The National Conference of State Legislatures provides a table with a list of the relevant maximum hours you can work, by state, before overtime kicks in. The table also explains the method of calculating overtime pay and specifies whether breaks or meals qualify as work time under the state’s overtime laws.
If you are entitled to overtime and your employer is not paying you, your employer is breaking the law. You should speak with a qualified labor law attorney regarding the legal breach in order to collect back pay. If your employer willfully fails to pay overtime, you may also be entitled to interest and penalties if you elect to sue your employer for your unpaid overtime wages. Complete our free online evaluation form today.