Understanding Overtime Hours

October 17, 2017
The Law Firm of J.W. Stafford

In the early days of the 20th century, employers could force workers to put in unconscionable hours on the job. The Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) changed that in 1938 by establishing a 40-hour workweek. The employee may still work for more than 40 hours, but must be compensated for the extra time at a rate of one and one-half times the amount of regular pay. However, not all jobs fall within the overtime pay rules and not all tasks are considered “work” within the FLSA’s definition.

When is Overtime Pay Due to You?

Overtime applies to hours worked in excess of 40 hours within a workweek. Employers do not owe you overtime pay for working on Saturdays, Sundays, holidays or nighttime hours unless you have already exceeded your 40 hours for that week or the arrangement is a term of your employment contract.

Is Your Job Covered by Overtime Pay Laws?

The FLSA allows for a broad range of exemptions to the overtime pay rules. The two most common exemptions are independent contractors and managers, but also include professionals, executives, administrators, IT and outside sales.

The FLSA only applies to employees. Independent contractors are not considered employees and are not entitled to overtime pay. Employers often misclassify employees as independent contractors to avoid overtime laws. However, simply giving you an independent contractor title is not enough. Your employer owes you overtime pay if your job satisfies the criteria of an employer-employee relationship.

Managers are also not entitled to overtime pay. Again, a managerial title is insufficient. You must actually have duties that are consistent with being a manager, including authority over hiring, firing, training and work performances of at least two employees.

Job Duties that Are On the Clock

When have you reached the 40 hours to begin qualifying for overtime pay? This question is constantly tested and debated, with employers sometimes pushing employees to work off the clock.

For example, employees who are forced to answer emails, text messages and phone calls during their off hours may in fact be working on the clock. Likewise, mandatory job training or meetings generally fall within the scope of worked hours.

Employees also cannot be required to clock out to perform tasks that are integral to the job description, such as retail clerks restocking shelves or restaurant wait staff refilling condiments. Tasks that are ancillary to the job, such as changing clothes or being checked in through security, are usually not on the clock.

Unless agreed to by the employer, the employee is generally off the clock during the lunch hour. But, short breaks to use the toilet cannot be counted as time off.

You earned the wages and have legal recourse for recovering damages should your employer fail to pay you. Contact an experienced Baltimore wage and hour attorney at the Law Firm of J.W. Stafford, L.L.C. to learn more about your rights under the FLSA overtime laws. The first step in asserting your rights is to call our law firm at 410-514-6099 to schedule an appointment today.