What if I’m not paid for my overtime?
There has been a steady increase in the number of employees who work well over a normal 40-hour workweek. For any hour that is worked past the 40-hour workweek, the Employee should receive what is known as “overtime.” It is important to note that there are exceptions, specific industries and jobs, which are exempt from overtime. Nonetheless, overtime is usually equivalent to 1.5 or 2 times the employee’s hourly wage. However, there are some situations where the employee is not paid overtime for any hours he/she worked over a 40-hour workweek.
If your job does not fall under one of the exemptions to overtime, you may be able to seek remedy under the Wage Payment and Collection Law (“WPCL”).
What does the WPCL do?
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania enacted the WPCL to ensure that every employee who should receive overtime does receive it. This WPCL sets strict timeframes by which an employer must pay their employee the overtime wages. The WPCL states:
All wages [(including overtime)], other than fringe benefits and wage supplements, earned in any pay period shall be due and payable within the number of days after the expiration of said pay period as provided in a written contract of employment or, if not so specified, within the standard time lapse customary in the trade or within 15 days from the end of such pay period.
In other words, the employee must receive their overtime wages (1) by the date agreed upon by said employee and employer OR (2) within 15 days from the end of the pay period.
What remedies are available under the WPCL?
The WPCL awards certain monetary damages to an employee if he/she does not receive the overtime wages by the date agreed upon or within 15 days from the end of the pay period. The WPCL specifically provides:
Where wages remain unpaid for thirty days beyond the regularly scheduled payday, or, in the case where no regularly scheduled payday is applicable, for sixty days beyond the filing by the employee of a proper claim or for sixty days beyond the date of the agreement, award or other act making wages payable, or where shortages in the wage payments made exceed five percent (5%) of the gross wages payable on any two regularly scheduled paydays in the same calendar quarter, and no good faith contest or dispute of any wage claim including the good faith assertion of a right of set-off or counter-claim exists accounting for such non-payment, the employee shall be entitled to claim, in addition, as liquidated damages an amount equal to twenty-five percent (25%) of the total amount of wages due, or five hundred dollars ($500), whichever is greater.
In other words, if overtime wages remain unpaid, the employee shall be entitled to: (1) his/her actual overtime wages and (2) liquidated damages equal to twenty-five percent (25%) of the total wages due. For example, if employee is entitled to $1,000 worth of overtime and hasn’t been paid, he/she would be entitled to $1,000 plus an additional $250 (25% of $1,000).
It is important to note that under the WPCL, a Court may award attorney’s fees. Therefore, if an employee is forced to bring a lawsuit and has to hire an attorney, the WPCL may pay for the employee’s attorney.