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3 Things You Didn’t Know About Overtime

On its face, overtime seems like it’s a fairly simple subject. In most jobs, if you work more than 40 hours in a given work week, you get paid at least time and a half for all of the hours worked over the basic 40-hour work week. But in this era of what appears to be rampant wage theft, there is a little bit more to the story than that. Here are three things you may not have known about overtime pay and your right to it.

On its face, overtime seems like it’s a fairly simple subject. In most jobs, if you work more than 40 hours in a given work week, you get paid at least time and a half for all of the hours worked over the basic 40-hour work week. But in this era of what appears to be rampant wage theft, there is a little bit more to the story than that. Here are three things you may not have known about overtime pay and your right to it.

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1. Your Overtime Rights Vary Depending on Your Job

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The federal law that gives you the right to overtime pay is called the Fair Labor Standards Act, or FLSA. This is the law that requires that most employees be paid at least the minimum wage, and that they be paid time and a half for all hours over 40 hours worked in a week. But, there are exceptions. For example, under Section 13(a)(1) of the Act, people in executive, administrative, or professional positions are not covered by these requirements. This could be a lawyer, a doctor, an insurance claims adjustor, or people who work in a wide variety of other fields.

People who are involved in outside sales positions and certain computer employees also lack these protections. Certain creative professionals are also not protected by the law, and under certain circumstances that can even include people like newspaper reporters. Under the FLSA, workers fall into one of two categories: exempt workers, who do not have these rights to overtime and certain wages, and non-exempt employees, who do have those rights.

2. Just Because You Are a Salaried Employee, Does Not Mean You Do Not Get Overtime

One common misunderstanding of overtime rules is a belief that if you are a salaried employee (that is, one who received a set payment every pay period regardless of hours worked, as opposed to an employee paid by the hour) then your employer can make you work endless hours without paying overtime. That is not the case. Whether you are entitled to overtime is a decision based on your income and job responsibilities, not one based on how your employer decides to do his or her payroll. If you make more than $24,000 and spend any of your work time supervising other employees, you may be out of luck for overtime right now. But the current administration is taking steps to increase the number of workers entitled to overtime pay. According to a report by The New York Times, President Obama has instructed the Labor Secretary to come up with a plan that would increase the number of workers eligible for overtime pay.

3. Even If Your Overtime Was Not “Authorized,” That Does Not Mean Your Employer Does Not Have to Pay it

A very common type of wage theft involves an employer refusing to pay you the overtime you are entitled to because he or she did not specifically give you permission to work overtime. The most abhorrent example of this is where the employer is the one who told you to work the extra hours, but then claims you are not entitled to extra compensation because it was somehow your responsibility to point out that working extra hours would force you to go over the 40-hour mark.

This wage theft is likely illegal. If you are a non-exempt employee, and you work over 40 hours in a workweek, you are entitled to time and a half for the hours over 40 hours. They have to pay you for it. Now, that being said, if your employer has a policy that says that you cannot work overtime without prior approval, your employer can take other disciplinary action against you for violating that policy. So it’s likely not in your best interest to intentionally violate such a policy. But you cannot be denied the pay to which you are entitled just because of that policy.

Tell Us What You Think

Have you or someone you know been denied much deserved overtime pay? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

Daniel Kalish
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23 Comments on "3 Things You Didn’t Know About Overtime"

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The stories here are sad. I’m a small business owner and I pride myself in taking care of my employees. When they work overtime, I make sure to pay them for it. If you are being taken advantage of by your employer then you should say something.


Ok this company a friend works for want her to come in and fill out a paper saying that she will not get paid for overtime but they are still wanting her to work more than 40 hours even after she filled out a paper saying that she will not get paid overtime so is this right for the company to do this or is this wrong

Gail Johnson
This was a long time ago when minimum wage was $2.65 an hours. I was hired as a secretary-receptionist in a small office in Utah that had 9 people. I was paid a salary of $550 a month. I was to work 8-5 Monday-Friday. I would arrive at the office for my shift at 8 a.m. Sometimes no one else was there so I would stand outside in the snow and cold until someone came to unlock the door. Sometimes I’d wait until 9 a.m. It wasn’t unusual for the people I supported to goof off and not do any… Read more »
Jennifer Perez
My husband has been working for a pool company for 2 months. He is averaging 7 hours OT. Week. But only getting paid for 4. Every two weeks paycheck. I’m concerned because when he asked about it the employer pulled up the time clock and said it wasn’t accurate, but he logs on his phone his time in and time out. With only 39 min lunch. He starts 7:30 am and finished 5pm. 5 days a week. How is this legal? In addition, his employer has now told everyone that they will be off the week before Christmas all week… Read more »

I worked along with 10-20 others for years without ever being paid over-time. Some weeks it was an hour, other weeks 15 or more of over-time. The company said we work in Illinois and they were located in Iowa so they didn’t have to pay over-time. I found out that wasn’t true.


I worked on my off day for overtime work. I travelled to the site of work which is kilo meters away from my workplace and was stopped from doing the work due to poor planning. Are the hours travelled not overtime?

Joseph Bowman

I worked 68 hrs and didn’t receive OT. The company I work for is based out of Georgia but I live and work in Florida. They consider travel time as straight time regardless of how many hrs it is. Also, I found out they charge the customer overtime for emergency service calls but pay employees straight time regardless of how far it is and what time you work. Is this legal?


I work 80 -90hours in week but I dont got overtime, so what I need do


I work for a company that pays straight time for our overtime. If you complain your fired.


I work at a fitness club and have been there for 1.5 years. I average about 92 hours every paid period and get paid on the 3rd and 19th of every month. I am not getting paid overtime. I’m keeping all my pay stubs and have even talked to my boss about it. My hours were cut for a bit and almost lost my job over it. What can I do?


You need to file a wage claim against that manager


I been working for almost three year at African restaurant and i worked 6day a week 13 to 15 hours daily on the begin was a blessing because they make me two check biweekly ones personal check and other with the company but when’s i asked why don’t pay me overtime they start to tell me
the company is to small so,so,so right now i quitting from the job


I work at a vet.They schedule us 11 hour shifts, with an hour lunch break..My hours went over 40.I was told if the overtime was not authorized then I would not get my overtime.It is to my understanding that no matter what policy they might inforce, that legally I am entitled to my overtime pay?


My job is making us do mandatory overtime because he said he wants to make it fair for those who work overtime for’s not because of staffing issues.we are fully staffed.can he do this?I don’t think this is legal.does anyone agree?


A colleague went sick so I done both jobs. I signed overtime but only got a proportion of it as I didn’t do the time I signed, my boss didn’t pay what I signed.
Is this fair practice


Hello I worker for 7 years for a vet in Houston .And in the summer I worked 42 hours and never got paid for it .i took picture of my hours I have 10 workers that worked overtime and she never payed them .She said bc she is a small business client .She makes 2.5 million for the las 2 years .No one will speakers up .i feel like I can’t do anything bc she will fire me .I need my job .


so say i work 42.5 can they take that overtime for lunch breaks

Overtime USED to be something that employees occasionally looked forward to – a few extra bucks. O/T was also dreaded by employers, but fortunately, they paid VERY little of it. Averaged-out over a year’s time, the actual amount of O/T paid didn’t amount to more than 2 ~ 3 hours per week for the typical employee. With the advent of 9/80, employers now automatically RECEIVE a bare minimum of 5 hours ‘overtime’ from each & EVERY employee, along with a Solid Guarantee that they will NEVER have to pay any real overtime wages again! Sorry to fill you in on… Read more »

I worked for one of the biggest supper saver in the country I was asked to work over time I asked to be paid over time if i worked over…I never was paid now i had to resign for medical reasons and never receved unemployment

Excellent article on OT/Wage Theft, Payscale is always a good read: The 9/80 workweek has been a recent issue, often for lower-wage hourly workers. Here is one scenario: Two ‘teams’ of employees, each team alternate working 9 hours M-F one week, and the next week 9 hours M-Th. Nobody receives OT pay, as the week begins/ends at 12noon on Friday? The job advertisement will tout “have every other Friday off!” With 2 ‘teams’, the employer gets 54 hours of production without paying OT. Pennsylvania has a maximum ‘fine’ of just $10/day for employers found guilty of not paying OT pay.… Read more »
Anthony Pixley

I have had my overtime taken from me and given to some one else who is already receiving overtime because he has more seniority over me can I refuse to give up my overtime

Walter Powers

Pratts isn’t paying me overtime but they want me to work weekends.ive been getting 50 and 60 hours what should I do

My problem is they made me a supervisor and gave me salary. They expect us to work at least 40 a week, say overtime is not approved. Then on top of the work week they give us this thing called On call. That is a customer can call us any day time or night. At this point we only do it for 7 days straight once a month. Before we used to do it for 30days straight. Can’t leave town and have to respond. At first they used to give us one day off for each 30 days, then it… Read more »
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