What to Know Before Agreeing to Overtime Work

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An article by contributor Eileen O’Shanassy.

If you have been asked to work overtime or are considering a job where overtime will be mandatory, there are a few things you need to know. Under some circumstances, you will be eligible for an increase in pay for all hours worked over 40, but there are also many notable exceptions. Here are a few things for you to consider.

Overtime Pay is a Federal Mandate

If you are in or are starting a job that offers or requires overtime, it is important to note that the Federal government has set a standard of 1.5x your regular pay rate for all hours worked over 40 (aka “time and a half”). States and private companies have the option to increase this amount, but they cannot decrease it for any reason. This is your right and you should make sure your paycheck reflects that.

Overtime Applies Primarily to Hourly Employees

If your job description mentions an hourly wage, by law, you are entitled to receive overtime as soon as your hours worked within one pay week exceeds 40. The days that make up a pay week can legally be defined by your employer. It can run Sunday-Saturday or Monday-Sunday, even Wednesday-Tuesday. The only stipulation is that the pay period must cover seven consecutive calendar days.

Salaried Positions and Overtime

If the job for which you are applying comes with a set salary, the law does not require the employer to pay overtime. In some situations, you could wind up putting in enough time to drag your hourly earnings far below minimum wage for a given week.

It is your job to protect yourself against predatory employers and negotiate a fair and reasonable compensation package prior to hire. Read and understand all contracts and hiring agreements prior to accepting the job.

Be sure to also work out a compensation package that covers you in the event that you find yourself putting in an excess of overtime. If an employer doesn’t seem willing to provide you with a fair wage or seems to be using salary as a way around paying overtime, move along.

Final Takeaway

It is up to you to know and understand the laws in your state or locality that govern overtime as well as the policies set forth by your employer. Some jobs require mandatory overtime. Know the situation you are getting into before you agree to take the job. Also keep a close eye on your pay stubs, at least initially, to ensure you are getting compensated properly for your hours worked.

Eileen O’Shanassy is a freelance writer and blogger based out of Flagstaff, AZ. She writes on a variety of topics and loves to research and write. She enjoys baking, biking, and kayaking. Check out her Twitter @eileenoshanassy

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