Overtime Pay Guidelines

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) outlines the standards for who has a right to overtime pay at the national level. No citizen working anywhere in the U.S. who is covered by its provisions may be denied overtime pay. For each hour worked over 40 in a workweek, non-exempt employees should receive 1.5 times their regular rate of hourly pay.

“Workweek” is an important term to define. According to the FLSA’s overtime law, it should be calculated thusly:

  • It consists of 168 hours, or seven 24-hour periods.
  • It is a recurring, consecutive period of time. In other words, the 168 hours (i.e., seven full days) must come one after the other. It is a true week, and not cherry-picked from a number of weeks or months.
  • It may start or end on any day of the week, but must always start or end on that same day. If an employer calculates the workweek as starting and ending on Sunday, it must always do this. It may not be changed around to manipulate overtime hours.
  • It cannot be averaged with other weeks to determine overtime. It stands alone, and any overtime accrued in the course of a workweek is unaffected by the number of hours worked in other workweeks. Employers may not refuse to pay overtime for one week on account of fewer hours worked in a different week.

There are certain exemptions that the FLSA defines. While state laws may include these workers under their own overtime laws, the Federal government does not guarantee overtime pay to them.

Job duties, not job titles, determine whether an employee is exempt from overtime pay. If the employee is paid on a salary basis and makes more than $455 per week and meets one of the five exemption categories, he or she is not eligible for overtime pay. The five exemption categories are the executive exemption; administrative exemption; professional exemption; outside sales exemption; and computer employee exemption.

The following are a few additional overtime pay guidelines regarding exempt status:

  • Any employee who makes less than $23,600 per year should receive overtime
  • Employees performing clerical, secretarial, maintenance, construction, installation, repair, production or kitchen work should, in most cases, receive overtime pay
  • While a few exceptions exist, hourly workers should be paid overtime
  • Salaried workers making less than $455 per week should receive overtime
  • Commissioned employees should usually receive overtime, except for those who travel on a regular basis

Remember, job titles do not determine overtime pay. Another common misconception is that salaried employees are not entitled to receive overtime. Unless an employee falls under one of the exemption categories, he or she is covered by overtime law.