Whether an employer can make you work seven days a week depends on your agreement when taking the job. For example, suppose you work in an emergency medical care position and the employer states clearly in the handbook provided to you at initial employment that weekends, holidays and evening hours may be required. You agree and take the position. The employer can then make you work seven days a week.
No Federal Mandate on Working Hours
The federal government does not set any rules on the number of hours or days you have to work to satisfy an employer's requirements. This does not mean you do not have rights, however. It simply means you must look to the laws of the state in which you are working for more specifics. You must also look back at the employment agreement you made with your employer when you took the position. If it states that you might be required to work seven days, or a yet undetermined number of consecutive days in a pay period, and you agreed to this, then the employer has the right to schedule you seven days in a week.
States Can Mandate Rest Days
Different states have different rules regarding how many days someone can work in a week. For example, Illinois has a law called the "One Day Rest in Seven Act" that specifically requires employers to allow employees 24 consecutive hours off during each calendar week. The Illinois law uses the Gregorian calendar – our standard means of counting days – where the calendar week begins at 12:01 a.m. Sunday and ends the next Saturday at midnight. Wisconsin does something similar. Many states have no laws concerning seven-day workweeks unless it pertains to overtime pay. To find specific information on the labor laws in your state of employment, contact your state labor office or visit its website. The U.S. Department of Labor offers a comprehensive list of contact information for all states.
You're Entitled to Overtime Wages
Regardless of the number of days or hours you are required to work, both federal and some state laws regulate overtime hours. In situations where you are required to work seven days a week, your employer may have to pay you overtime wages. This depends on where you live and the type of job you work. Employees covered by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act are entitled to overtime compensation equaling 1.5 times the normal hourly wage. The few exceptions include salaried employees and workers on small farms. Some states, including Kentucky, require overtime pay on the seventh day worked in one week regardless of the number of hours worked. In California, employers must pay double time for any hours worked above eight hours on the seventh workday of the week.
Read More: What is Overtime Law?
Unless your state imposes mandatory rest days, you're obligated to work whatever hours and days are specified in your employment contract.
- U.S. Department of Labor: Coverage Under the Fair Labor Standards Act
- U.S. Department of Labor: Fact Sheet 22 - Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
- U.S. Department of Labor: Minimum Wage Laws in the States - January 1, 2015
- U.S. Department of Labor: Overtime Pay
- Illinois Department of Labor: One Day Rest in Seven Act
- U.S. Department of Labor: State Labor Offices
Vicki A Benge began writing professionally in 1984 as a newspaper reporter. A small-business owner since 1999, Benge has worked as a licensed insurance agent and has more than 20 years experience in income tax preparation for businesses and individuals. Her business and finance articles can be found on the websites of "The Arizona Republic," "Houston Chronicle," The Motley Fool, "San Francisco Chronicle," and Zacks, among others.