Overtime Laws Safeguard the Well-being of Workers and Their Families

A diverse group of individuals.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division is hosting a series of listening sessions to hear the public’s feedback on the current overtime regulations for white-collar workers and the potential impact from any changes to those regulations – and we want to hear from you.

Why it matters

Over the years, the nation’s workers and employers have recognized the importance of maintaining a balance between work and homelife. Long hours at work take their toll on physical and mental health and family welfare. Additionally, overwork provides diminishing returns, increases the likelihood of work-related accidents and decreases job satisfaction.

Prior to the enactment of the Fair Labor Standards Act, six-day and 60-hour workweeks were common. Many workers, particularly women, brought work home and continued to produce for their employers late into the evening, after feeding their families and tending to the responsibilities of the household. They often received no extra pay for their toil and sacrifice.

In response to these conditions, the Fair Labor Standards Act was passed in 1938, requiring employers to pay “premium pay” for each hour worked over 40 in a workweek. This requirement created a monetary disincentive for worker exploitation. It made a 40-hour workweek the norm. Importantly, it also strengthened families by providing opportunities to spend valuable time together.

Who it affects

Most workers employed in the U.S. are required to receive overtime pay, but the law does exclude some people from its protections. Still, many employers run afoul of overtime laws. Of all the millions of dollars in back wages we’ve recovered for workers under the Fair Labor Standards Act, 84% are the result of overtime violations. It is imperative that federal overtime laws reflect contemporary working conditions and remain vital and effectual in the modern workplace.

To ensure overtime laws reflect the realities of today’s workplace and that federal law provides meaningful protections for workers and their families, we’re currently reviewing the Fair Labor Standards Act’s Part 541 overtime regulations, which govern when white-collar workers employed in an executive, administrative or professional capacity are entitled to overtime protections. An essential part of that review includes a series of listening sessions to solicit input, information and insight from workers and their advocates as well as from the business community.

Join the conversation

From April 27 through June 3, 2022, we’re hosting virtual listening sessions across the country, and we invite all stakeholders – workers, employers, advocates and more – to share their thoughts. Would a change to the Part 541 overtime rules affect your life? Tell us how. Register to participate in one of these listening sessions.

If you have a question about overtime pay, salary exemptions, minimum wage or illegal pay deductions, call our toll-free help line confidentially at 866-4-USWAGE (866-487-9243). Also, check out our search tool, Workers Owed Wages if you think you are owed back wages.

Jessica Looman is the acting administrator for the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division. Follow the division on Twitter at @WHD_DOL.