Overtime Law – Frequently Asked Questions

1. How long do I have to work before being paid overtime?

The answer to this question depends on your location and the type of job you have, but for the vast majority of the workforce overtime is all time worked over 40 hours in a single week. Certain occupations or states may also mandate overtime pay for all hours worked over 8 in a single day, and some medical occupations calculate overtime based on a 14-day period. Check your state overtime laws for any special laws relevant to your area.

2. I’m a salaried employee – do I get paid overtime?

While overtime mainly applies to hourly-wage workers, you may still be eligible for overtime pay depending on the type of work you do (see overtime exemptions for more details). Salaried employees who receive overtime must be paid an overtime bonus based on 1.5 times their de-facto hourly wage (calculated by dividing their normal salary by number of hours normally worked).

3. My employer isn’t paying me overtime, what can I do?

If you believe that your employer should be paying you overtime wages and has not done so, you have the right to file an unpaid overtime claim with your local Department of Labor office. They will investigate your claim and, if they believe you are owed backwages, will help ensure you receive them – overtime backwages can be collected for up to two years. Don’t be afraid to call your local DOL office – it’s a federal offense for your employer to penalize you for going to the Department of Labor over an overtime issue. You can find contact details for your local Department of Labor office on the state overtime law pages.

4. I’m an exempt employee – do I get paid overtime?

If your job is classified as an exempt position, your employer is not required to pay you overtime. Although some companies may choose to offer overtime compensation to their exempt employees, it is not mandatory. If you believe that your particular job description shouldn’t be classified as exempt, contact your local Department of Labor office and they will be able to review your overtime-exempt status.

5. How do I calculate my overtime pay?

To calculate the overtime pay you are owed, multiply the number of overtime hours you worked by 1.5 times your normal hourly wage. You can find an overtime calculator on your state’s overtime law page.

6. Can my employer force me to work overtime?

Aside from several exceptions in the medical industry, there are no limits on how many hours your employer can require you to work as long as they comply with any applicable overtime pay regulations. If you refuse to work overtime, your employer can legally penalize or terminate your employment.