Salary Overtime Laws

By Jason Shueh

Perhaps you've been working longer shifts lately and you are wondering if your employer should be paying you overtime. Or, perhaps you are an employer starting a new business and want to know when you're required to pay your employees for overtime. And how much? If you can relate to these scenarios, this synopsis of federal overtime law might help you out.

Federal Law

Nationally, all worker overtime is governed by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and governed through the U.S. Department of Labor. The Labor Department states that "unless exempt, employees covered by the [FLSA] must receive overtime pay for hours worked over 40 in a workweek at a rate not less than time and one-half their regular rates of pay.

It's important to note here that this is a minimum requirement for all states. Certain states have additional state regulations that are far more specific about how and when overtime should be given.

Is There a Limit to Overtime?

According to federal regulations, there is no limit to the number of hours that can be worked in a week. The only requirement placed upon employers is that after an employee works more than 40 hours within a 168-hour workweek (7 days multiplied by 24 hours), they must be paid one and a half times their normal rate of pay.

What About Weekends and Holidays?

Many might ask the question: Does overtime take into account weekends and holidays? Or, in other words, can an employee get overtime if they're working holidays and weekends? Unless already agreed to in your contract, workers are not entitled to overtime pay for holidays or weekends unless the hours worked during those weekends and holidays add up to more than 40 hours per week.

Can Part-time Employees Get Overtime?

According to FLSA, there is no definition of what is full-time and part-time working hours, though some states do define this. But whether you are a part-time or full-time employee, if you work more than 40 hours a week you are entitled to get one and a half times your normal rate of pay.

Can You Earn Double-Time?

The rate of minimum overtime pay is set at one and a half times the normal rate of pay. There is no national law that requires your employer to pay more unless it is agreed to in your work contract.

Are There Daily Hour Requirements?

In some states, such as California, there are requirements for daily overtime pay. For example, if you work more than eight hours a day in California you are entitled to one and a half times your normal rate of pay. Yet, nationally there are no requirements for overtime hours during each workday. Everything boils down to the standardized 40-hour workweek, which makes it that much more important to check your local state labor laws because you might be entitled to more compensation.

About the Author

Jason Shueh is a northern California native who has a passion for writing dynamic stories. As a journalist he's interviewed mountain bike Olympic hopefuls headed for Beijing, covered the 2009 Amgen Tour of California cycling event and is currently doing freelance work to start up an online fitness column for Diablo Magazine.