Overtime Pay Requirements of the FLSA

This section provides general information concerning the application of the overtime pay provisions of the FLSA.

Characteristics

An employer who requires or permits an employee to work overtime is generally required to pay the employee premium pay for such overtime work.
Requirements
Unless specifically exempted, employees covered by the Act must receive overtime pay for hours worked in excess of 40 in a workweek at a rate not less than time and one-half their regular rates of pay. There is no limit in the Act on the number of hours employees aged 16 and older may work in any workweek. The Act does not require overtime pay for work on Saturdays, Sundays, holidays, or regular days of rest, as such.

The Act applies on a workweek basis. An employee's workweek is a fixed and regularly recurring period of 168 hours -- seven consecutive 24-hour periods. It need not coincide with the calendar week, but may begin on any day and at any hour of the day. Different workweeks may be established for different employees or groups of employees. Averaging of hours over two or more weeks is not permitted. Normally, overtime pay earned in a particular workweek must be paid on the regular pay day for the pay period in which the wages were earned.

The regular rate of pay cannot be less than the minimum wage. The regular rate includes all remuneration for employment except certain payments excluded by the Act itself. Payments which are not part of the regular rate include pay for expenses incurred on the employer's behalf, premium payments for overtime work or the true premiums paid for work on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays, discretionary bonuses, gifts and payments in the nature of gifts on special occasions, and payments for occasional periods when no work is performed due to vacation, holidays, or illness.

Earnings may be determined on a piece-rate, salary, commission, or some other basis, but in all such cases the overtime pay due must be computed on the basis of the average hourly rate derived from such earnings. This is calculated by dividing the total pay for employment (except for the statutory exclusions noted above) in any workweek by the total number of hours actually worked.

Where an employee in a single workweek works at two or more different types of work for which different straight-time rates have been established, the regular rate for that week is the weighted average of such rates. That is, the earnings from all such rates are added together and this total is then divided by the total number of hours worked at all jobs. In addition, section 7(g)(2) of the FLSA allows, under specified conditions, the computation of overtime pay based on one and one-half times the hourly rate in effect when the overtime work is performed. The requirements for computing overtime pay pursuant to section 7(g)(2) are prescribed in 29 CFR 778.415 through 778.421.

Where non-cash payments are made to employees in the form of goods or facilities, the reasonable cost to the employer or fair value of such goods or facilities must be included in the regular rate.

Typical Problems

Fixed Sum for Varying Amounts of Overtime: A lump sum paid for work performed during overtime hours without regard to the number of overtime hours worked does not qualify as an overtime premium even though the amount of money paid is equal to or greater than the sum owed on a per-hour basis. For example, no part of a flat sum of $90 to employees who work overtime on Sunday will qualify as an overtime premium, even though the employees' straight-time rate is $6.00 an hour and the employees always work less than 10 hours on Sunday. Similarly, where an agreement provides for 6 hours pay at $9.00 an hour regardless of the time actually spent for work on a job performed during overtime hours, the entire $54.00 must be included in determining the employees' regular rate.

Salary for Workweek Exceeding 40 Hours: A fixed salary for a regular workweek longer than 40 hours does not discharge FLSA statutory obligations. For example, an employee may be hired to work a 45 hour workweek for a weekly salary of $300. In this instance the regular rate is obtained by dividing the $300 straight-time salary by 45 hours, resulting in a regular rate of $6.67. The employee is then due additional overtime computed by multiplying the 5 overtime hours by one-half the regular rate of pay ($3.335 x 5 = $16.68).

Overtime Pay May Not Be Waived: The overtime requirement may not be waived by agreement between the employer and employees. An agreement that only 8 hours a day or only 40 hours a week will be counted as working time also fails the test of FLSA compliance. An announcement by the employer that no overtime work will be permitted, or that overtime work will not be paid for unless authorized in advance, also will not impair the employee's right to compensation for compensable overtime hours that are worked.

Regular Rate Variation

(1) Hourly rate (regular pay rate for an employee paid by the hour) - If more than 40 hours are worked, at least one and one-half times the regular rate for each hour over 40 is due.

Example: An employee paid $8.00 an hour works 44 hours in a workweek. The employee is entitled to at least one and one-half times $8.00, or $12.00, for each hour over 40. Pay for the week would be $320 for the first 40 hours, plus $48.00 for the four hours of overtime - a total of $368.00.

(2) Piece rate - The regular rate of pay for an employee paid on a piecework basis is obtained by dividing the total weekly earnings by the total number of hours worked in that week. The employee is entitled to an additional one-half times this regular rate for each hour over 40, plus the full piecework earnings.
 
Example: An employee paid on a piecework basis works 45 hours in a week and earns $315. The regular rate of pay for that week is $315 divided by 45, or $7.00 an hour. In addition to the straight-time pay, the employee is also entitled to $3.50 (half the regular rate) for each hour over 40 - an additional $17.50 for the 5 overtime hours - for a total of $332.50.

Another way to compensate pieceworkers for overtime, if agreed to before the work is performed, is to pay one and one-half times the piece rate for each piece produced during the overtime hours. The piece rate must be the one actually paid during non-overtime hours and must be enough to yield at least the minimum wage per hour.

(3) Salary - The regular rate for an employee paid a salary for a regular or specified number of hours a week is obtained by dividing the salary by the number of hours for which the salary is intended to compensate.

If, under the employment agreement, a salary sufficient to meet the minimum wage requirement in every workweek is paid as straight time for whatever number of hours are worked in a workweek, the regular rate is obtained by dividing the salary by the number of hours worked each week. To illustrate, suppose an employee's hours of work vary each week and the agreement with the employer is that the employee will be paid $420 a week for whatever number of hours of work are required. Under this agreement, the regular rate will vary in overtime weeks. If the employee works 50 hours, the regular rate is $8.40 ($420 divided by 50 hours). In addition to the salary, half the regular rate, or $4.20, is due for each of the 10 overtime hours, for a total of $462 for the week. If the employee works 60 hours, the regular rate is $7.00 ($420 divided by 60 hours). In that case, an additional $3.50 is due for each of the 20 overtime hours for a total of $490 for the week.

In no case may the regular rate be less than the minimum wage required by FLSA.

If a salary is paid on other than a weekly basis, the weekly pay must be determined in order to compute the regular rate and overtime pay. If the salary is for a half month, it must be multiplied by 24 and the product divided by 52 weeks to get the weekly equivalent. A monthly salary should be multiplied by 12 and the product divided by 52.