How Much Do You Get Paid for Overtime?

Time is money
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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.

How Much You Will Get Paid for Overtime

Nonexempt hourly employees covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) must be paid overtime for hours worked over 40 hours per week. When an employee is entitled to overtime pay, the rate cannot be less than one and one-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 (working on a holiday, for example). However, in most cases, double time is an agreement between an employer and employee or is provided by state law. There are no federal laws requiring that it be paid.

State Laws

State laws may provide for overtime or double time pay. For example, California requires double time pay based on hours worked. 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 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.

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 purely voluntary.

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.

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.

Limits on Overtime Work

There are some states that limit how many hours some employees can work, including Alaska, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Washington, and West Virginia. Restrictions usually apply only to some health care workers with a primary focus on nursing personnel. 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, truckers, and nuclear power plant staff as well as certain railroad and marine personnel.

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.

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 towards you if a special exception is made.

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.

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 its status to avoid lawsuits claiming back overtime pay after the fact. 

Professional, creative, executive, and administrative employees are usually exempt if they are salaried (versus receiving hourly pay) and receiving more than the equivalent of $455 per week, exercise independent judgment, manage two or more workers, and apply advanced knowledge or innovative thought.

 Additional Classes of Workers Exempt from Overtime Pay

  • 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 
  • Companions for the elderly 
  • Country elevator workers (rural) 
  • Domestic employees who live in
  • Farm implement salespeople
  • Federal criminal investigators
  • Firefighters working in small (less than five firefighters) public fire departments 
  • Fishing
  • Forestry employees of small (less 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 (less than nine employees) firms
  • Motion picture theater employees 
  • Newspaper delivery 
  • Newspaper employees of limited circulation newspapers 
  • Police officers working in small (less than five officers) public police departments 
  • Radio station employees in small markets
  • Railroad employees 
  • Seamen on American vessels
  • Seamen on other than American vessels
  • Sugar processing employees
  • Switchboard operators 
  • Taxicab drivers 
  • Television station employees in small markets 
  • Truck and trailer salespeople

Other U.S. Employment Laws

To learn more about your rights and entitlements as a worker in the United States, check out 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.