Employee Rights on Overtime

By Jan Simon
Overtime pay is defined by the Fair Labor Standards Act.
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If the boss asked you to work beyond a normal 40-hour week, you should understand how that affects your paycheck. Not everyone is entitled to overtime pay. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) mandates that employers pay overtime and minimum wage. The FLSA further defines what employee classifications are exempt from overtime. In general, exempt employees receive a set amount of salary for a given pay period regardless of the hours worked. The FLSA classifies jobs, not job titles, as exempt according to requirements established by this labor law.


Overtime is working more than 40 hours in a workweek. The FSLA defines a workweek as one period of 168 hours. Another definition is seven consecutive 24-hour periods that can begin on any day and any hour of the week. Employers must keep workweek schedules consistent. This means that if the 40-hour workweek is Saturday through Wednesday, it is not necessary to pay overtime wages for Saturday and Sunday unless an employee works more than eight hours on those days.

Wage Calculation

The FLSA mandates paying overtime wages at one and one-half times an employee's regular pay rate. Regular pay rate is not necessarily calculated on an hourly wage. The calculation involves all cash and noncash compensation. Exceptions to this rule include vacation and holiday pay and discretionary bonuses. There is no requirement to pay two times a pay rate per federal government regulations.

State Legislation

Although the FLSA is silent on double-time pay, California enacted legislation that exceeds federal compensation laws. The state has a higher minimum wage. Employers must calculate overtime at time and one-half based on any hours worked beyond a normal eight-hour day, even if the employee does not work more than 40 hours in the week. Double pay, two times the regular rate, goes into effect when an employee works more than 12 hours in one day. That means an employee's regular rate gets doubled at the 13th hour. Additionally, employers must pay laborers double time on the ninth hour of the seventh consecutive working day. Employers must compensate nonexempt employees for overtime pay according to the regularly scheduled pay period.

Regulation Authorities

The U.S. Department of Labor enforces the labor laws for companies in the private sector, state and local governments, the U.S. Postal Service and the Library of Congress. All other federal employees and congressional workers fall under the regulation of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.


It is important to understand an employee's job title does not determine an overtime exemption. Employers must carefully review the job responsibilities before classifying a job as exempt or nonexempt. Three levels of testing, salary level, salary basis and job duties are the determining factors.

About the Author

Jan Simon is a career and life coach with more than 20 years of experience in corporate human resources. She holds a bachelor's degree from Central Michigan University. Simon enjoys writing career articles and is a columnist for the CV Weekly. She also publishes a weekly blog called Life on the Sunny Side.