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  • Writer's pictureDavid Manes

When am I entitled to overtime pay?

Overtime: The Basics

A workweek, defined, is a period of 7 consecutive days, starting on any day the employer decides (e.g., Sunday). The typical workweek for a full-time employee consists of 40 hours. If you work more than 40 hours per week, you are working overtime.

Overtime pay must be at least one and a half times your straight pay. Suppose you work 45 hours in one workweek with a straight pay of $10/hr. In this case, you should be paid $10/hr for the first 40 hours (totaling $400) and $15/hr for the 5 overtime hours (totaling $75).

If you are eligible for overtime pay, it must be calculated on a weekly basis, regardless of whether or not you are paid hourly, by a monthly salary, or on another basis.

Remember, overtime pay cannot be offset by mandatory time off in a prior or subsequent workweek. If an employer has you work 45 hours in one week, but restricts you to 35 hours the next, he or she still has to pay you overtime for the first workweek.

Exempt Status

If you are a salaried employee, you should check your employment contract for overtime provisions. Generally, though, salaried employees are exempt from overtime. This means you are not entitled to overtime pay even if you work over 40 hours in a workweek.

Other exempt employees include:

  1. Executives

  2. Administrators

  3. Supervisors

  4. Those in managerial positions

Employment within the above categories renders professionals such as most doctors and lawyers exempt. It may be difficult to determine whether you belong under one of these categories. If you are unsure, an employment lawyer can look into your situation and give you an opinion. Generally, factors included in this determination are:

  1. Whether or not your primary duty is to manage business

  2. Your control over other employees

  3. Your ability to hire and fire others

Suppose you are a retail manager. Most of your workday consists of stocking shelves and ringing up customers. You work over 40 hours in a workweek and are not paid overtime. When you ask why, your employer tells you that, per the law, you are exempt since you are considered a manager. This may be a misclassification. Despite your title, your duties consist mostly of non-managerial tasks and you do not have much control over other employees. An employment lawyer can help you remedy this misclassification.

Discrepancies between federal and state regulations

Sometimes, federal and state regulations regarding overtime clash. For example, federal law allows employers to restrict overtime to an employee if he or she earns over $100,000 annually. Pennsylvania law does not allow such a restriction. Also, federal law does not require overtime for computer employees but Pennsylvania law does. The regulation (federal or state) that provides the greatest benefit to the employee will be the standard that is enforced.

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