Employee Rights for Overtime Hours in the Workplace

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The Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor enforces the overtime and earnings rights of employees. Federal law protects employee rights as they pertain to overtime pay, minimum wage, child labor and record keeping. Employers must remain compliant with federal regulations in regards to fair labor and the employment rights of their workers.

Hours Worked

Employees that exceed 40 hours in a workweek have the right to receive overtime pay. There are several instances in which an employee can exceed 40 hours while not actually performing regular job duties. However, this does not hold an employee exempt from overtime eligibility. For example, if mandatory &ldquo;lectures, meetings and training programs&rdquo; held outside of normal business hours cause an employee to surpass 40 hours within a workweek, the worker is still eligible for overtime. Travel time is also calculated for overtime purposes. In regards to overtime, an employer must compute all hours in which an employee is not &ldquo;completely relieved from duty.&rdquo;

Overtime Pay

The Fair Labor Standards Act allows employees who exceed a certain number of hours in a workweek to receive premium pay from their employer. The minimum required pay for overtime is &ldquo;time and one-half&rdquo; of an employee&rsquo;s regular rate of pay. Regular rate of pay cannot be less than federal minimum wage. Employees that work on a salary or commission basis receive overtime pay based on the averaged hourly rate of their earnings.

Employees have the right to overtime pay even if an overtime &ldquo;waiver&rdquo; exists between workers and their employer. According to the FLSA, &ldquo;overtime pay may not be waived.&rdquo; Employer&rsquo;s that prohibit paying overtime but still allow employees to exceed scheduled work hours are not in compliance with labor and employment laws.

Read More: The Laws for a Semimonthly Pay Period & Overtime


Employees who have not received the appropriate pay for the hours they worked have the right to recover their wages with the assistance of the Department of Labor. The Department of Labor imposes penalties on employers that violate fair labor employment standards. Laws can be enforced through administrative action or court proceedings. Workers are also protected against retaliation from their employer if they file a complaint for not receiving proper overtime pay. Although employees have various rights to overtime, some occupations are exempt from overtime pay provisions and are not subject to federal enforcement.

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