One of the questions employees frequently have is about how much they will be paid for overtime hours.
The answer is that it depends on what type of employee you are and what federal and state laws you are covered by. In addition, there are some employees who are exempt from overtime pay regulations who do not receive overtime pay.
Review information on which employees qualify for overtime pay, how much you can earn, and when overtime is paid.
What is Overtime Pay?
When an employee works additional hours, they may be entitled to extra pay beyond their regular pay rate for those hours. Employees covered by federal law are entitled to a rate not less than one and a half times their regular rates of pay for hours worked over 40 in a week. Some occupations are exempt from overtime pay requirements.
Some states have additional overtime pay requirements. For example, Alaska, California, Nevada, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have daily overtime laws for employees who work over eight hours a day.
How Much You Will Get Paid for Overtime
Non-exempt hourly employees covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) must be paid overtime for hours worked over 40 hours per week.
Time and a Half
When an employee is entitled to overtime pay, the rate cannot be less than one and a half times (time and a half) an employee's regular rate of pay. For example, if your hourly rate of pay is $10/hour, the overtime rate is $15/hour.
In some cases, overtime may be paid as double-time (when working on a holiday, for example). However, in most cases, double-time is an agreement between an employer and employee or is provided for by state law. There are no federal laws requiring that double time be paid.
Federal Overtime Rules
From January 1, 2020, the rules governing overtime pay for non-exempt workers are:
- The “standard salary level” to exempt executive, administrative, and professional employees from the FLSA minimum wage and overtime pay requirements is $684 per week (equivalent to $35,568 per year for a full-year worker).
- The annual compensation requirement for exemption from overtime for “highly compensated employees” is $107,432 per year.
- Employers will be able to use nondiscretionary bonuses and incentive payments (including commissions) paid at least annually to satisfy up to 10% of the standard salary level, in recognition of evolving pay practices.
- The employee's job responsibilities must involve executive, administrative, computer, outside sales, or professional duties.
State Overtime Pay Laws
State laws may provide for overtime or double time pay. For example, California requires time-and-a-half or double time pay based on hours worked, with some exceptions. For example, if you are paid double time and your regular hourly rate is $12.55/hour, the double-time rate would be $25.10/hour.
In addition, some states may have a higher overtime earnings threshold than the federal level.
In states where an employee is covered by both state and federal overtime laws, overtime is paid according to the standard that will provide the highest amount of pay.
Check your state department of labor website for information on overtime rules in your location.
How to Calculate Overtime Pay
Here's information on how overtime pay is calculated. When you want to see how much overtime pay you will earn, you can use this Overtime Calculator from the United States Department of Labor to help you determine if you're eligible for overtime pay and to calculate how much overtime you will receive for a typical pay period.
When You Work Nights, Weekends, or Holidays
The FLSA does not require overtime pay for nights, weekends, or holidays unless the hours push the worker over the 40-hour threshold. Many employers have policies in place to add a differential to the wages of workers who work evenings, weekends, or holidays, but this is voluntary.
Pay for Mandatory Overtime
The Fair Labor Standards Act requires employers to pay time and a half to any non-exempt employees who work more than 40 hours in a week. Employers are not required to pay overtime to exempt employees.
Employees Who Don’t Receive Overtime Pay
Exempt employees are not entitled to overtime pay. A complex criterion exists in order to determine whether an employee should be classified as exempt.
Most organizations err on the side of classifying jobs as non-exempt if there is significant uncertainty about their status, to avoid lawsuits claiming back overtime pay after the fact.
If you are asked to work what feels like too much overtime at your salary job, here are some options for handling it.
Workers Exempt from Overtime Pay
There are a variety of occupations where workers are exempt from overtime pay requirements, including the following.
- Aircraft salespeople
- Airline employees
- Amusement/recreational employees in national parks/forests/Wildlife Refuge System
- Babysitters on a casual basis
- Boat salespeople
- Buyers of agricultural products
- Commission sales employees
- Companions for the elderly
- Computer professional
- Country elevator workers (rural)
- Domestic employees who live in
- Drivers, driver's helpers, loaders, and mechanics
- Executive, administrative, professional, and outside sales employees
- Farm implement salespeople
- Federal criminal investigators
- Firefighters working in small (fewer than five firefighters) public fire departments
- Forestry employees of small (fewer than nine employees) firms
- Fruit & vegetable transportation employees
- Homeworkers making wreaths
- Houseparents in non-profit educational institutions
- Livestock auction workers
- Local delivery drivers and driver's helpers
- Lumber operations employees of small (fewer than nine employees) firms
- Motion picture theater employees
- Newspaper delivery
- Newspaper employees of limited circulation newspapers
- Police officers working in small (fewer than five officers) public police departments
- Radio station employees in small markets
- Railroad employees
- Salesmen, partsmen, and mechanics employed by automobile dealerships
- Seamen on American vessels
- Seamen on non-American vessels
- Seasonal and recreational workers
- Sugar processing employees
- Switchboard operators
- Taxicab drivers
- Television station employees in small markets
- Truck and trailer salespeople
Can Employers Force You to Work Overtime
Employees often wonder if they have to say “yes” when they are asked to work overtime. What happens if you have other commitments or simply don’t want to work the extra hours? There are some exceptions, but you may not have the option to opt out.
There are no federal laws prohibiting employers from requesting mandatory overtime except for workers under 16 years old and a few safety-sensitive occupations. In general, if your employer asks you to work overtime, including extended shifts or weekend hours, you will be required to do so unless you are covered by a collective bargaining agreement or another employment contract that stipulates the overtime hours you are required to work.
Negotiating Overtime Work
Highly-valued employees may be able to negotiate arrangements with their employer to avoid working overtime. You might consider asking to discuss your situation with supervisors in a confidential setting and cite any legitimate concerns like eldercare or childcare responsibilities, or health concerns that make it difficult for you to work extra hours. Of course, co-workers may express some resentment toward you if an exception is made.
Limits on Overtime Work
There are some states that limit how many hours some employees can work. Consult your state department of labor to investigate any laws that might impact your occupation.
Federal regulations restrict the number of hours that can be worked in safety-sensitive occupations like pilots, nuclear power plant staff, certain railroad and marine personnel, and truckers, for example.
Some unions or individuals will negotiate collective bargaining agreements or employment contracts that prohibit employers from requiring overtime. Certain employers have enacted policies that place restrictions on the amount of overtime that is permissible. In those cases, workers can take up the issue with supervisors and/or human resources representatives and request clarification of the policy.
Other U.S. Employment Laws
To learn more about your rights and entitlements as a worker in the United States, review this list of U.S. employment laws. It includes important information about key mandates including laws governing comp time, fair pay, minimum wage, overtime pay, pay for snow days, unpaid wages, vacation pay, and wage garnishment.
The information contained in this article is not legal advice and is not a substitute for such advice. State and federal laws change frequently, and the information in this article may not reflect your own state’s laws or the most recent changes to the law.