Even though most large companies have a payroll specialist to handle employee pay, mistakes are still made, and sometimes employers knowingly withhold overtime pay to save the company money. Unless you’re a payroll specialist or HR person, you might find the calculations to figure regular pay, overtime pay, PTO time, sick days, and vacation pay mind numbingly boring or difficult. Many employees aren’t even clear on the breakdown of their paycheck, and don’t even know how overtime pay works at their company.
What’s universal for most companies is that the more you work, the more you make unless you’re a salaried employee and exempt from overtime. Some positions earn a set salary, and whether you work eight hours a day or 12, your pay is exactly the same. Most of us have jobs that compensate for longer hours, and the hours worked overtime will earn us 1.5 times or even double our hourly wage. If your employer owes you overtime pay, or you feel your paycheck is suspiciously short every two weeks, you may have a valid legal claim to collect unpaid overtime wages. You will likely need the guidance of an experienced overtime wage attorney because figuring overtime wages is a complex process, and several conditions must be present in order to prove an employee is owed unpaid overtime.
FLSA and Overtime Pay
According to federal law, overtime pay depends on three things:
- How much you make
- What you do one a daily basis at your job
- What your job position’s skills are
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) details employee rights in the United States, and one of its most basic requirements is that employers pay their employees the wages they are due including any overtime pay that is earned.
Under the FLSA, overtime pay is equal to one and a half times your regular hourly rate; under U.S. law, hourly workers including those in retail, construction, and many office jobs, for example, are owed overtime pay for any hours worked over 40 hours per week. If you work 56 hours in one week and you are paid $20 per hour, you are due overtime pay for 16 hours at time and a half your regular wage. Even if you only work 30 hours in the second week of your pay cycle, you are entitled to overtime during the first week you worked, in most cases.
There are some states that calculate overtime on a daily basis, which means you would earn overtime for any time worked over 8 hours in one day, so make sure you are familiar with the particular laws in your state.
FLSA Administrative Exception
The FLSA Duties Test or “administrative exception” standard allows an employer to not pay overtime if three criteria are met:
- The employee makes at least $455 per week
- The employee’s “primary duty must be the performance of office or non-manual work directly related to the management or general business operations of the employer or the employer’s customers.”
- The employee’s primary duty “includes the exercise of discretion and independent judgment with respect to matters of significance.”
Those who win an unpaid overtime claim against their employer will usually receive compensatory damages equal to the amount of overtime they should have received, plus liquidated damages (double the amount) if it’s proven that your employer should have known about your overtime status. You may also be entitled to attorneys’ fees and costs.
If you feel you’re owed overtime pay, and you’ve kindly asked your employer to look into it and nothing has happened yet, please contact an employment law attorney near you. If you’ve kept careful documentation of your hours worked and pay received, an attorney will likely be able to build a case for you. Because the FLSA requires you to notify within two years of the violation, please don’t delay in finding a lawyer to take your case.