Unpaid Overtime Guide


Man working overtime in the middle of the night at his job while not being paid for his time.

Overtime Pay Guide

Have you worked additional hours within the week and noticed that your paycheck is less than it should be?

If you’ve been paid your normal hourly rate after working more than 40 hours per week, you may be entitled to overtime pay. Overtime compensation is required for eligible employees in all 50 states and is protected federally under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Knowing federal overtime law and regulations can ensure your employer is giving you the full compensation you are rightfully owed. We’ve compiled a complete guide that answers the most common questions about overtime pay.

What is the Definition of Overtime Pay?

Overtime pay is the financial amount of compensation an employee receives when working over their designated work hours — most commonly any additional time worked in excess of 40 hours per week.

It’s important to note that this only applies towards the total amount of hours worked per week, not per day.

How Much Is Overtime Pay?

Federal overtime is required for all employees (unless exempt under FLSA) to receive premium pay for any additional hours worked after 40 hours per week with a rate of no less than one and a half times their regular rate.

Do I Get Paid Overtime on Holidays?

The Fair Labor Standards Act does not require overtime pay for work on national holidays, unless the holiday hours are actual overtime hours, meaning they surpass the 40-hour mark for the week. There is no federal law requiring overtime or paid time off for national holidays in the U.S.

Overtime on holidays, or holiday pay, in rare cases may be enforced by statewide regulations.

Certain states like Rhode Island and Massachusetts require all private business owners to offer paid time off for holidays.

Do I Make Overtime on the Weekend?

Under federal law, the Fair Labor Standards Act does not include mandatory overtime pay for work done on the weekend, unless the weekend hours are above the 40-hour threshold.

However, it’s important to note that state mandated overtime laws may differ from federal.

California Labor Codes 551 and 552 state that all employees are entitled to at least one day of rest per week. Thus, California overtime laws affirm that an employee must be paid one and a half times the amount of their normal hourly rate if they were to work 7 consecutive days.

How Is Overtime Pay Calculated?

Overtime pay is calculated by taking the total number of hours (in excess of 40 hours per week) and multiplying them by 1.5 times your normal hourly rate.

For example, if your normal hourly rate is $20/hour, then your overtime rate is $30/hour. 

If you’ve worked 4 hours overtime on top of your regular 40 hour workweek, then your total pay would be: 

Regular Hours: 40 Hours x $20/Hour = $800

Overtime Hours: 4 Hours x $30/Hour = $120 

Total Pay: $920 

Does Overtime Pay Double?

Under the FLSA, there is no legal requirement for an employer to pay an employee double the rate of their standard hours. However, some employers may independently provide “double time” pay rates to their employees under certain circumstances.

Who Is Not Eligible for Overtime Pay?

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) separates employees into two categories: exempt and non-exempt. Non-exempt employees are allowed to receive overtime pay while exempt employees are not.

Most exemptions are targeted under the umbrella term of “white-collar workers,” referring to any administrative, executive, or professional employee.

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, certain groups are exempt from receiving overtime such as:

  • Learned professional employees: Licensed or certified workers such as doctors, optometrists, and medical specialists
  • Executive employees: Employees with a primary responsibility to manage or direct work of at least two full-time employees
  • Administrative employees: Employees with a primary duty to manage general business operations while allowing independent judgement and non-manual labor
  • Computer employees: Software engineers, computer programmers, computer system programmers, or any other similar profession dealing with modification of computer systems
  • Highly compensated employees: Employees with a total annual compensation of $107,432 or more and must include at least $684 per week on a salary or fee basis

However, if your profession falls under any of these categories which exempts you from overtime pay, you may still be eligible depending on your state’s overtime law.

Who Is Eligible for Overtime Pay?

Some examples of non-exempt employees include professions within the following categories:

  • “Blue-collar” workers: Manual or skilled laborers such as construction workers, electricians, and plumbers
  • First responders: Police, firefighters, paramedics, or any other similar emergency response workers
  • Veterans: Former military, air service, or naval personnel who were released under conditions that were other than dishonorable
  • Healthcare employees: Practical nurses, therapists, pharmacy technicians, and other similar health care employees

Overtime Pay Exceptions Within Occupation Fields

Certain employment categories cannot fully be summed up as exempt or non-exempt, as many occupations fall within different statuses.

There are certain exceptions which may make one type of employee ineligible while another employee within the same field is able to reap the benefits of overtime pay. These include, but are not limited to:

Medical Health Industry:

  • Registered nurses who are paid on an hourly basis are eligible to receive overtime pay.
  • Licensed practical nurses or any other similar health care employee with advanced knowledge through specialized intellectual instruction are not eligible for overtime. These fall under the Learned Professional employee exemption.

Financial Service Industry:

  • Employees that are responsible for selling financial products are eligible for overtime pay.
  • Employees whose responsibility is financial advice, collection, analyzing clients assets, debt, or investments are not eligible for overtime, as they fall under the “Administrative and Executive” employment exemption.

Higher Educational Institutions:

  • Coaches, athletic directors, and assistant coaches are eligible for overtime.
  • Coaches, athletic directors and assistant coaches who hold a full-time teaching position from a higher education institute are not eligible for overtime as this falls under Learned Professional exemption.

Are Salaried Employees Eligible for Overtime?

Unless they meet the criteria for exempt status in accordance with federal and state laws, all salaried employees are eligible for overtime pay.

Are Part Time Employees Eligible for Overtime? 

Federally, part-time employees are not eligible for overtime unless they meet the requirements of working over 40 hours per week.

Whether you are deemed part-time or full-time by your employer is irrelevant to the law. If you have worked more than 40 hours per week, you are entitled to overtime pay.

Are Undocumented Workers Eligible for Overtime?

Undocumented workers are entitled to both minimum and overtime wages under federal law regardless of their immigration status. Immigration status is irrelevant under the Fair Labor Standards Act and will not impact an undocumented worker’s eligibility for overtime pay.

State v. Federal Overtime Law

While some states have adopted unique overtime regulations, such as California overtime law, other states may have unique restrictions on eligibility.

If a discrepancy occurs between conflicting federal and state overtime laws, the employer must must apply the overtime law that:

  1. Results in employee obtaining overtime pay
  2. Results in employee being paid the higher overtime wage

Does the Employer Have to Pay if the Employee Worked Unauthorized Overtime?

If unauthorized overtime is worked by an employee, the employer is still responsible to pay them at an overtime rate. According to the FSLA, “Work not requested but suffered or permitted is work time.”

Although your employer must pay you for the overtime you worked, there can still be penalties put in place for disobeying non-pre-approved work hours. It is legal for an employer to penalize or discipline employees that deliberately work unauthorized overtime if they infringe on company policies.

What Happens If My Employer Fails To Pay Owed Overtime?

As a direct breach of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), failing to pay an employee overtime is illegal and opens up the company to direct legal action from their current or former employees.

How Long Can You Claim Unpaid Overtime? 

Under federal law, the statute of limitations for unpaid overtime is two years from the date of the overtime violation, meaning a legal claim must be brought forth within this time.

However, if the unpaid overtime is deemed “willful” by the employer (meaning the employer is fully aware they have failed to pay their employee on time), the statute of limitations may be extended up to three years.

Some states have certain overtime rules that extend the period of time that you can seek compensation for unpaid overtime such as California, which allows up to four years.

While the leniency varies state-to-state, waiting too long to file a claim may result in reduced settlement compensation.

It is of the utmost importance to immediately file a lawsuit if you believe you are entitled to unpaid overtime wages. Every day that passes may deplete your full amount of compensation. Wilshire Law Firm has a highly-experienced team of employment lawyers who will fight tirelessly to get you the compensation that you deserve.

Can a Company Refuse to Pay Overtime?

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, it is illegal to withhold or fail to provide overtime pay for any non-exempt employee who has worked in excess of 40 hours per week. Under federal law, employers are required to pay one and a half times (time and a half) of your normal hourly rate if you work over 40 hours per week.

If you believe your employer has failed to pay you overtime, you may be entitled to financial compensation. Our award-winning employment law attorneys at Wilshire Law Firm will work vigorously to protect your rights and get your fair compensation. We provide our services on a contingency basis, meaning you pay no fees unless you win!

Call us at (800) 501-3011 NOW or fill out our online contact form to get started with your FREE case consultation.

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