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About (Over)time

Filed in Overtime, Workplace Rights By on May 18, 2015


To help build real, lasting economic security for more hardworking Americans, President Obama has directed Secretary of Labor Tom Perez to update the Fair Labor Standards Act’s overtime pay protections and to simplify the rules about overtime for employers and workers alike. We’ve been hard at work developing a proposal that will do these things, and in the process, a lot of people have had questions about the existing law and how we will update it. Here is what you should know:

What is overtime?  

Most workers covered by the FLSA must be paid 1½ times their regular pay for any hours they work beyond 40 per week. Generally, employers are prohibited from working people more than 40 hours per week without paying them properly for those extra hours. In addition to this basic floor of protection provided by federal law, some states and employers provide additional protections.

What is the purpose of overtime? 

For 77 years, the FLSA has ensured “the most minimum standard of living necessary for the health, efficiency and general well-being of workers.” One of the original goals of the FLSA was the basic premise that workers should be paid fairly for their work. The law limits the number of hours most employees can work without additional compensation.

What does not qualify for overtime?  

The federal law does not require overtime pay for work on Saturdays, Sundays, holidays or late night shifts. And under federal law, overtime is not due after eight hours in a day – only after 40 hours in a workweek. There is no limit on the number of hours employees ages 16 and older may work in any workweek. Some states provide greater protections.

How will the overtime rules be updated?

Unless specifically exempt, workers protected by the FLSA must receive overtime pay. The president asked Secretary Perez to update the “white-collar exemptions” that exclude certain professional, executive and administrative employees from having to be paid overtime. To be exempt from overtime under the “white-collar” exemption, a worker must be paid a guaranteed salary of at least $455 per week, and perform certain job duties.

This exemption was originally intended for well-compensated white-collar employees: doctors, lawyers, CEOs – you get the idea. But as a result of changes in the workplace over many decades, and specifically because the rules have not been updated in 10 years, workers earning as little as $23,660 per year can be denied overtime pay under this exemption.

We will soon issue a proposal to update these rules. The proposal will go through a formal notice and comment process, which gives the public and all interested parties the opportunity to provide input.

Need more information?

If you have additional questions about overtime requirements please visit our overtime website or contact us at 1-866-487-9243. You will be directed to the nearest Wage and Hour Division office for assistance. There are offices throughout the country with trained professionals to help you, and all information that you share is confidential. Protecting your right to a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work starts with understanding the rules − we are here to help.

Dr. David Weil is the administrator of the department’s Wage and Hour Division.

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Comments (7)

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  1. Bill says:

    does this apply to salaried employees?

  2. Michael says:

    I have questions regarding the overtime being forced on people in the work place. I was hired at my security job which is hourly paying I was told my post doesnt have a relief and when shift is over, I didn’t have to wait to be relieved. The rules are if it’s your post and someone calls out for your post you have to stay mandatory. I’ve been still getting forced and they keep breaking the union rules. And threatening my job if I don’t do it. Not to mention I’ve gotten sick and ran into many health risks and still was forced I would like to take legal action.

    • Harry R. Sohl says:

      Michael, There is no federal rule to stop them from requiring you to work. Under federal law, they must pay overtime for any hours after 40 in a workweek.

      However, your state may have different rules – not likely about making you stay, but potentially about getting paid more for that work (for example, in California, overtime must also be paid for more than 8 hours in day – not just more than 40 in a week.)

      Additionally, you mention you are part of a union, and you believe this is against union rules. You should contact your union representative to see about how they can protect you, advocate for you, assist you, and potentially represent you (both to management and in court.) Again, depending on your bargaining agreement, it’s not likely they can help about making you stay (but maybe!), but potentially about getting paid more for that “extra” work.

  3. ivon interian says:

    Is it legal for an employer to flex your hours after working pass your 8 hours by having you come in late the next day or leave early so he does not have to pay you overtime for the day before? He also gives mandatory Saturday meeting and does not have you clock in so he can flex your hours during the week

  4. Harry R. Sohl says:

    It should read: “The federal law does not require overtime pay for work on Saturdays, Sundays, holidays or late night shifts – unless any of those hours were after 40 in a workweek.” (The current wording makes it seem like weekends are “exempt.”)

  5. Dusty says:

    Is there truly “no limit” on the hours that exempt employees can be required to work in a day/week? I have a friend (exempt, but not SES) who works at an agency’s HQ downtown and has been told by his boss (an SES) that he is required to work 15-hour days, every day, or will be fired. This is literal, and not an exaggeration. This seems crazy to me. But as far as I can tell this is legal?? I also don’t know if this is a typical experience – it’s not normal in the agencies I’m familiar with.

  6. Jenny Tagert says:

    Under this new regulation, can a worker remain salaried and still be eligible for OT?
    Is there a classification of Salaried Non-Exempt or must all non-exempt be hourly and subject to losing wages for time less than 40 hrs in a week (which does not occur with a salaried situation in our organization, exempt or non-exempt)?