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.