Q&A: Answering Your Questions about Overtime Pay

Overtime is confusing. Sometimes you’re eligible and sometimes you’re not. Meanwhile, no one seems to know what rights the employer has and what rights you have. More than ever, questions are floating around about overtime wages so keep reading to get those questions answered.

But first, let’s check out the basics of overtime wages.

The Basics of Overtime Wages

In order to clear up the rules on overtime wages, let’s start with some simple information. Only certain employees are eligible for receiving overtime wages, and this decision is based on the government’s measure of salary and job duties. When eligible for overtime, employees should receive time and a half pay for any hours worked over the standard 40-hour workweek. This means an employee who receives $10 per hour would receive $15 per overtime hour.

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Answering Your Questions about Overtime Pay

Can you refuse to work overtime?

Your employer can require you to work overtime. Some people believe that employers cannot schedule employees for more than 40 hours in a workweek due to the standard of 40 hours in a workweek. Working overtime can be voluntary, but it doesn’t have to be. If you’re assigned 43 hours of work, you will be written up for punching out after only working the 40 hours.

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Can my boss refuse to pay me overtime if I’m eligible?

No, if you are required to work over 40 hours a week, and you are eligible according to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), then your employer must pay you time and a half for every hour over 40.

Can my employer keep me from working over time?

Yes, your employer can implement a rule requiring you to receive approval before working over 40 hours in a work week.

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Can my employer force me to clock out at 40 hours but make me still work?

No, this is illegal. Some employers may try to do this without making a big deal out of it in a sort of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Also, a manager might assign an employee a large amount of work, knowing that to complete it will take more than a standard 40-hour workweek to finish. The law obligates employers to compensate their employees for work.

Should I be paid overtime when I work through my lunch breaks?

Yes, if you are eligible for overtime wages, then you should be paid for all time worked. A full-time employee, who is paid hourly with a daily 30-minute lunch break and must work during lunch, should be paid. The law forces employers to pay employees for all hours worked. Best practice is to clear working overtime with your boss before doing so.

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If I work over 40 hours without employer permission, do I still receive overtime wages for that time?

Yes, the law requires that employers pay eligible employees time and a half for overtime hours. Your employer may discipline you for working unapproved overtime hours, but they must still pay you.

Can I be fired for not working overtime?

Yes, your employer can fire you if you refuse to work overtime and they require it. The FLSA does not regulate employers on how much time they demand from employees, but it does require that employees be compensated for their time. In Pennsylvania, no state laws add any additional protections for employees.

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Does my employer pay me overtime wages when I work more than 8 hours in a workday?

No, the federal government only regulates how many hours are a standard workweek, not a standard workday. Therefore, you are only paid overtime wages for overtime hours over the 40-hour standard workweek. Only certain state governments have regulated the work day hours, but Pennsylvania is not one of them.

Can I be denied overtime wages because I work in two separate departments?

Naturally, the answer depends on the state, the jobs, and eligibility. This requires a more in-depth answer, looking at the different variables that could influence the outcome. And in your case, you may need to speak with an employment lawyer to find out how your employment lines up under the law.

Lexi works a full-time nonexempt job for the state government. She also landed a 10-hr nonexempt position in another department. What should her pay be?

FLSA Exempt and Nonexempt Employees

The Fair Labor Standards Act determines whether an employee is eligible for overtime wages or not. Exempt employees meet a certain salary requirement as well as certain duties and do not receive overtime pay. Nonexempt employees do receive overtime.

Nonexempt Employee with Two Nonexempt jobs

In this case, an employee working for the same employer in two different capacities should receive overtime wages. The trick here is that the employer and employee must decide in advance what pay rate the employee will be receiving for overtime hours. Without such an agreement, the overtime pay would be computed from the weighted average of both pay rates.

Nonexempt Employee with a Second but Exempt Position

In this case, since the employee is nonexempt but the second job is exempt, the situation is treated as if all jobs are nonexempt. Therefore, the employee would receive overtime pay for all hours worked over 40.

Exempt Employee with a Second, Nonexempt Job

An exempt employee who works a second, nonexempt position will receive the regular pay for hours worked at this job. The only time this might change is if the employee begins to spend as much or more hours at the nonexempt job.

Can my employer make a nonexempt employee check emails after hours?

Yes, your employer can require you, a nonexempt employee, to work after hours, but the employer must understand that any type of work, even checking emails or making client calls, is considered overtime and must be paid. If a nonexempt employee works the standard 40-hour workweek and then must stay on top of email throughout after hours, the employee must be paid overtime wages for those hours worked over the standard full-time hours. The FLSA obligates employers to pay nonexempt employees for their time.

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Can an employee agree to waive their right to overtime wages?

Absolutely not. The U.S. Supreme Court refuses to allow employers and employees to privately agree to employment terms that violate the FLSA and overtime pay rules. This decision has been in place since 1945 and continues to reaffirmed in courts.

Do movie theaters have to pay hourly employees overtime wages?

In Pennsylvania, movie theaters are exempt from paying employees overtime wages for hours worked over the 40-hour workweek. Federal government also doesn’t allow movie theater employees to receive overtime wages for overtime hours.

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Do stage theater workers receive overtime pay for overtime hours?

For the most part, theater workers, including actors, composers, and dancers, do not receive overtime wages. However, depending on the situation, the court and labor department can make decisions case by case.

Am I eligible for overtime if I work for a transportation company in Pennsylvania?

Honestly, it depends what type of transportation industry you work in and what type of work you are doing. Many employees who work transportation are exempt from the overtime laws, including airline employees, railroad employees, taxicab drivers, local drivers, and motor carriers.

However, in some cases, certain employees may not be exempt. For example, courts in Pennsylvania found that two trucking companies were failing to pay eligible truck drivers overtime wages. Always check into the details of the requirements for overtime payments.

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Do auto body shops have to pay overtime in PA?

So, it depends, especially since auto mechanics and technicians are paid differently than the standard employee. The convoluted payment system of “flat rate” or “flag rate” makes figuring out overtime is difficult. Basically, mechanics are paid a set amount of money for each repair, no matter how much time it took. Businesses believe this type of payment system increases productivity. However, it also creates more overtime questions since mechanics’ hours are not tracked the same.

The FLSA outlines how exemptions work for overtime pay of employees in retail or service. Mechanics are exempt if their regular hourly rate is higher than one and one-half times the minimum wage, which is $7.25 in Pennsylvania since 2015. Also, if more than half of your pay comes from commissions, you are exempt from overtime pay. This is only a brief overview so speak with an employment lawyer if you want a more detailed answer.

Determining whether or not you’re eligible for overtime pay depends on four factors.

  • Place of employment
  • Payment system
  • Your salary
  • State where you work

What other employees are exempt from overtime wages in Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania’s laws keep specific types of employees from receiving overtime wages due to their work. Of course, employers are still required to comply with other minimum wage standards.

  • Seamen
  • Salesmen or mechanics (with certain parameters)
  • Taxicab drivers
  • Announcers, news editors, chief engineers
  • Maple sap to sugar or syrup workers
  • Movie theater employees

In situations where a town or city has a certain population, these areas may be exempt from offering overtime wages to employees. When a city has fewer than 100,000 people and is not part of a standard metropolis or a city has fewer than 25,000 people and is at least 40 airline miles from the nearest metropolis of 100,000+ people, these cities are also exempt.

What do I do about Miscalculated Overtime?

In some situations, employers knowingly miscalculate overtime wages for employees. This is against the law. Therefore, an employee must take certain steps to recover their unpaid overtime wages. The important thing is to understand when an employer should be compensating you for your time, and then you must also know how to prove that your overtime has been miscalculated. Find out more about how to prove miscalculated overtime.

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What to do if I’ve been misclassified exempt for overtime wages?

Exempt employees are measured against a few criteria, specifically income and responsibilities. An employer may try to sidestep the law by classifying employees as exempt when in reality they should be receiving overtime wages. When you believe that you have been misclassified as FLSA exempt for overtime, you must check the FLSA guidelines for overtime exemption.

Am I eligible for overtime pay under the new overtime laws?

The new overtime laws finally took into account the inflation of costs throughout the years. In 2016, these new overtime laws changed the income requirements for employees, making many more employees eligible for overtime. If your income is less than $47,476 per year or $913 per week, you may be eligible for overtime wages. Check your eligibility based upon work responsibilities as well.

How do I sue my employer for unpaid overtime pay?

To sue your employer for overtime wages, you must do a few things. First of all, you must be certain of your eligibility for FLSA overtime wages. Once sure, you must then notify your employer that you believe you may be entitled to overtime. If nothing is done to rectify the unpaid wages, you should consider contacting an employment lawyer because he or she will know your legal options for how to sue your employer for overtime wages.

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More questions? Reach out and chat with an employment lawyer at KM&A.

If you think you might have an overtime case, speak with a lawyer. Chat with an employment attorney: (412) 626-5626 or lawyer@lawkm.com.