A maximum of generally 40 hours per week has been set by various state and federal laws on the amount of work that an employer may obtain from an employee without paying overtime. This ceiling is generally designed to assure employees a reasonable amount of time off, to provide a stimulus for the creation of additional jobs, and to place limits on the ways firms compete with each other. When an employee works beyond the number of hours set as the ceiling, those laws generally require a payment of one and one-half times the employee’s regular hourly rate for the extra hours of work. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) contains the basic federal law on overtime pay. Its rules are the model for overtime pay rules under the laws of various states, including Ohio.

  • In sum, employers are required to pay employees overtime for hours over 40 worked during a week. Overtime pay is 1-1/5 times an employee’s regular wage rate. For example, if you are paid $10 per hour and work 60 hours in a week, then you are entitled to be paid $15 per hour for the 20 hours above your normal 40 hours.

The FLSA does not limit the number of hours the employee may work during a week, but simply designates those hours that must be paid at the overtime rate. An employee may work as many hours a week as the employee and the employer see fit, as long as overtime is paid. There are certain exceptions to this rule. For example, federal law and the laws of various states limit the number of hours that can be worked in certain jobs, such as mining, driving, and manufacturing.

Overtime – Exempt Employees

The overtime compensation rules do not apply in like manner to all employees. Some workers are completely exempt from the rules, while others are exempt or partially exempt from some of the rules. The most widely used and recognized exemptions from federal and state overtime requirements are the exemptions for “white collar” employees, such as executives, administrators and professionals.

  • An executive employee is generally one whose primary duty is management, who supervises the work of at least two other employees on a regular basis, and who has the power to hire or fire, or who has a say as to the employment status of other employees.
  • An administrative employee is generally one whose primary duty is office or non-manual work directly related to the management or general business operations of the employer or the employer’s customers, including the exercise of discretion and independent judgment with respect to matters of significance. For example, employees working in a tax, labor relations, human resources or IT department can be exempt administrative employees, if they regularly make important business judgments.
  • “Professional employee” refers generally to the traditional professions, including teaching, as opposed to the mechanical arts or skilled trades.
  • While technically not exempted by the white collar exemptions, skilled computer employees and outside salespersons may also be classified as exempt employees.

Whether an employee is exempt is determined by the employee’s actual work activities, not by an employer’s characterization of those activities through a job title, job description or by the nature of the employer’s business.

Overtime – Salary Requirements For Exempt Employees

No employee may be considered an exempt “white collar” employee unless his or her wages meet the minimum compensation requirements. Currently, the minimum compensation requirement is $455 per week on a salary basis; however, this pay requirement does not apply to teachers, doctors, medical residents and interns, and lawyers. For computer employees, the pay requirement is met by compensation of at least $27.63 per hour. President Obama has called for an increase to the minimum salary requirement so that millions more Americans can get overtime.

Overtime – Penalties for Employers

Unpaid overtime carries stiff penalties for employers. In addition to paying the amount of unpaid overtime, employees can collect an additional 2 to 5 times that amount in damages. Unpaid overtime can also result in employer liability for the employee’s attorney’s fees and litigation costs and expenses. Not only that, an employee can sue on behalf of other employees who were the victim of unpaid overtime. In such cases, the employee who sues can collect an additional amount as the representative for class of employees with unpaid overtime claims.

Overtime – Who Is An Employer?

Moreover, the legal definition of “employer” includes “any person acting directly or indirectly in the interest of an employer in relation to an employee.” This means that business owners and others can be personally liable for unpaid overtime and additional damages.

More information about your rights can be found at the DOL website and, more generally, at Wikipedia. The DOL also provides an overtime calculator that you can use to calculate what you might be owed.

The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.