Many employees have found themselves in awkward positions where their employer may need them to work longer hours but do not want to pay the overtime expense for those extra hours. If you are an employee who has worked extra hours, you may be wondering if it is ok for an employer to adjust your hours just to avoid paying overtime. Unfortunately, this issue is common in a lot of workplaces. Not only is it common, but it is also problematic when an employee is caught off guard when overtime mismanagement comes up and the employee feels pressured to oblige in the moment to be cooperative.
Do Employers Have to Pay Overtime After 40 Hours of Work?
Employees who are wage earners are entitled to being paid “time and a half” (150%) for time that exceeds 40 hours in a standard workweek. This law is under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and protects wage employees.
Today, there are many myths surrounding overtime pay and it is important to understand the initial criteria mentioned. One of the most common assumptions surrounding overtime is that overtime begins after eight hours of work in any given day; however, the federal law actually focuses on the amount of total hours in a workweek. Therefore, it’s possible for an employee to work 12 hours on a Monday but works less hours on a Friday and still stays under 40 hours of work for the week. This means the employer off-shifted the request, but maintained the employee’s overall hours without the need for overtime pay. This is at the federal level; however, certain states may require stricter rules for a local level.
Do Employers Have to Pay Overtime?
In summary, employers must pay overtime under certain circumstances. Many times, employers try to avoid paying overtime in an effort to save money. Although it is legal for employers to prohibit you from working overtime (more than 40 hours a week) or to work more than 40 hours a week, they must pay overtime if you are a non-exempt employee and you have worked more than 40 hours in a given week.
Unfortunately, many employers try to get away with not paying overtime. This happens when employers require employees to “clock out” after a work day but still require them to work. However, employees are protected by the federal law and if an employer is requiring an employee to provide extra work even after he or she has clocked out, the employee must be paid for that extra work. Even if the employer has a rule in place that employees are not allowed to work more than 40 hours in a week and the employee still does it anyway, the employer still owes overtime pay to the employee.
There are some scenarios where employers have employees sign contracts that express that they will not be paid overtime if the employee works more than 40 hours in a week. However, it is important to know that such contracts do not supersede the law and regardless of the contract, employees must be paid overtime if they work more than 40 hours in a work week.
There are other scenarios in which an employer may try to get out of paying overtime. For example, some employers will misclassify an employee as being exempt from receiving overtime pay. For instance, independent contractors are considered exempt from overtime pay. However, in an event where an employee that has been misclassified may actually be a non-exempt employee, then he or she is is entitled to overtime pay.
Another example of when an employer may try to get out of paying overtime for employees that receive a salary. Employees receiving salary pay are only exempt from overtime pay if they are receiving at least $455 per week. However, just because an employee is receiving a salary does not mean that they are completely exempt from overtime pay. The salaried employee and their duties must fall under the exempt category in order for the employer to not pay overtime.
Lastly, employers may also try to get out of paying overtime by requiring employees to be “on call” or to work from home. For example, if you are an employee that is required to perform tasks or duties that restrict your free time – such as having to immediately answer work phone calls, emails, texts, or having to attend mandatory trainings or meetings outside of work hours or days off – then this is considered work and you are entitled to overtime pay.
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