Maryland's Law on Paying Overtime Past 40 Hours in a Week

By Jeffrey Nichols
construction worker image by MAXFX from Fotolia.com

Maryland's labor code requires most employees to receive overtime pay for working more than 40 hours in a given week. Overtime pay is a premium hourly wage that ensures employees get extra compensation for putting in long hours. Employers must decide whether to pay the additional wages or avoid doing so by giving employees a certain amount of time off per week.

Basics

Maryland employees must receive 1.5 times their regular hourly wage for all hours worked past 40 in a given week. If an employee makes $14 an hour and works 45 hours one week, he must receive at least $21 for each of the final five hours. The overtime hours standard is higher for certain farm workers, who must exceed 60 hours per week to receive overtime wages. Bowling alley employees and employees of care institutions such as nursing homes receive overtime after working 48 hours in a given week.

Exceptions

Some employers do not face an obligation to pay overtime in Maryland, according to state labor laws. These companies include interstate trucking companies, hotels and restaurants, gas stations, private clubs, not-for-profit temporary home care agencies, not-for-profit concert promoters and theaters, certain seasonal amusement parks or recreational establishments, and many food processing companies.

Considerations

Maryland employers do not have to pay overtime to employees who receive a salary rather than hourly wages and whose job descriptions are "executive," "professional" or "administrative." State and federal laws describe the work duties that define employees in these categories. These employees' salaries also must total at least $455 a week to grant an exemption from overtime-law coverage. Other Maryland employees who do not have a right to overtime pay include certain retail mechanics, taxicab drivers, outside salesmen, commissioned employees, members of an employer's immediate family and movie theater employees.

Misconceptions

A Maryland employer has the right to unilaterally change employees' hours and require them to work overtime, as long as the employer pays the appropriate overtime wages. The only factor that dictates overtime pay is hours in excess of 40 in a given week, so an employer may require an employee to work weekends or holidays without paying overtime. If an employer chooses to offer paid vacation time or paid days off on holidays, those hours do not factor into employees' eligibility for overtime pay. Employees who work 35 hours and receive eight hours of holiday pay, for example, do not qualify for overtime pay.

Significance

If an employer does not pay owed wages, including overtime wages when applicable, an employee may take action either through the Maryland Division of Labor and Industry or through the court system. The division will investigate wage claims and take administrative action against employers when appropriate. An employee also may file a lawsuit with the potential for treble damages plus attorney fees. If the employer willfully and maliciously withheld wages, the employee may look into filing criminal charges.