4 Myths About Overtime Debunked

There are many myths out there about overtime rules, regulations, exemptions, and specifics. However, it is incredibly important that employers do not fall for these inaccurate assumptions, but instead follow overtime rules as they are meant to be followed.

According to The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employers are required to pay non-exempt employees at an overtime rate of at least 1½ times their normal wage for any hours worked more than 40 in one workweek. While this may seem straightforward to most people, there are still many misconceptions that come into play.

While there are many of these we could cover, we are going to specifically take a quick look at four of the most prevalent ones today.

Myth 1: Employers May Dock Pay For Unauthorized Overtime

As we have covered before, failing to pay employees overtime pay due to them, even if the overtime worked was not authorized, is one of the biggest FLSA violations made by employers today.

Even if an employee works overtime that is not approved ahead of time and goes against company policy, you must still pay them at the correct overtime rate (1½ times their normal wage) for any overtime worked. Instead of docking them this pay, the issue of the employee violating company policy should be handled as a disciplinary issue and follow your standard company procedure for corrective action.

Myth 2: Salaried Employees Are Not Owed Overtime

Salaried employees are not the same as exempt employees. Therefore, it is possible to have a salaried employee who is still eligible for overtime pay. In order for an employee to truly be considered exempt, and therefore not owed overtime pay, they must meet criteria for an exempt employee outside of simply receiving a salary.

Myth 3: Overtime Laws are the Same Everywhere

Some states have unique overtime regulations that differ from those set by FLSA. Specifically, California has unique regulations that employers need to be aware of and make sure to be in accordance with.

In California, overtime is after:

  • 8 hours per day (even if hours in the workweek do not exceed 40).
  • 40 hours per week.
  • The 1st 8 hours on the 7th consecutive day of work in a workweek.

California also requires double-time pay after:

  • 12 hours in a workday.
  • 8 hours on the 7th consecutive day of work in a workweek.

Myth 4: Hours Can Be Averaged Across Multiple Weeks to Avoid Overtime

If an employee works above 40 hours in a workweek, they are due overtime pay for any of those hours above 40, regardless of how many hours they work the surrounding workweeks. Hours may not be averaged per week across multiple weeks, even if they fall within the same pay period.

If an employee works 50 hours one week of a pay period, but only 10 in the following week of the pay period, they would be owed for 50 hours at their regular pay rate and 10 hours of overtime pay, even though they only averaged 30 hours per week in that pay period.  

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