Overtime requirements of the FLSA

The Fair Labor and Standards Act (FLSA) is a federal law that regulates the standards for wages and overtime pay that affects most public and private employment in the United States.

History of the FLSA

The FLSA was passed during the New Deal era in 1938. It introduced a maximum 44-hour work-week, established a national minimum wage, guaranteed “time-and-a-half” for overtime in most jobs and regulated the employment of minors to end oppressive childhood employment activities. President Franklin Roosevelt called it the most important piece of New Deal legislation passed besides the Social Security Act of 1935.

Wages and Hours

One of the most relevant modern applications of the law involves its regulation of wages and hours.

Here are some of its important requirements:

  • Employers must pay covered employees at least the federal minimum wage that is currently $7.25 an hour
  • Employers must pay overtime wages of one-and-one-half-times the regular rate of pay
  • The law restricts the hours that children under 16 can work in non-agricultural jobs and bans the employment of children under 18 in certain dangerous jobs

Exemptions to the overtime time-and-a-half requirements

There are certain jobs that that are not required by the FLSA to receive time-and-a-half for overtime worked. These exempt jobs are generally management type positions and this rule is known as the “white-collar exemption.” Here is a list of some of the most commonly applied exempt positions to the overtime requirements:

  • Executives
  • Administrators
  • Professionals
  • Commissioned Salespersons


This is one of the most litigated areas of the FLSA. Oftentimes the lines are blurry between workers who actually manage and those who are called  “managers” by name only.

In order to qualify for this exemption the employer must show that the worker:

  • Has the primary duty of managing the enterprise or a subdivision of the enterprise
  • Regularly directs the work of other employees
  • Possesses the authority to hire and fire employees or has an equivalent power
  • Is paid a salary


In order to qualify for the administrator exemption the employer must show the workers:

  • Primary duty is office or non-manual work directly related to the management or general business operations of the business
  • Primary duty includes the exercise of discretion with respect to matters of significance
  • Must be compensated on a salary or fee basis


In order to qualify for the professionals exemption the employer must show the workers:

  • Primary duty is the performance of work: (a) requiring knowledge of an advanced type in a field of science or learning customarily acquired by a prolonged course of specialized intellectual instruction, or (b) requiring invention, imagination, originality or talent in a recognized field of artistic or creative endeavor
  • The employee must be compensated on a salary or fee basis

Commissioned salespersons

In order to qualify for the commissioned salesperson exemption the employer must show the workers:

  • Work in a “retail or service establishment”
  • Regular rate of pay exceeds one and one-half times the applicable federal minimum wage


This is by no means an exhaustive list of the exempt positions or all of the requirements to meet exempt status, but does provide an overview and a starting point for understanding the FLSA exemptions to the overtime requirement.


If you have worked overtime without compensation and you are eligible for FLSA coverage, contact a lawyer who will know how to navigate your case and your rights under the law.

Don’t hesitate, talk to an attorney: (412) 626-5626 or lawyer@lawkm.com