When does extra work become a separate job?

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in Human Resources,Overtime Labor Laws

Q. We have an hourly employee who does clerical work during her normal 40 hours. She would also like to start cleaning the office two nights per week. Since these are two separate jobs, would she get overtime or could it be a separate payment?  — T.D., Illinois

A. The employee would be entitled to overtime pay, because although she is performing two different types of work, she is still working for the same employer. You can pay her at different rates, of course, for the different work.

To calculate what she is owed in overtime, most em­­ployers find it easiest to calculate the weighted average hourly rate for both jobs per the FLSA regulations. (29 C.F.R. §778.115) This means you must figure out what her average hourly rate is for each workweek in which she works more than 40 hours in total.

You could also agree in advance that her overtime rate will be calculated based on the regular rate that applies to the type of work performed during the hours in excess of 40. That sounds simpler than averaging the rates, but requires similar care in calculating what is earned.

For example, if she spent 40 hours working in the office and 10 hours a week cleaning, you would pay her at the regular rate for each job until she reached 40 hours, and for hours worked in excess of 40, time-and-a-half at whatever rate applies to each job performed for additional hours worked in that week. In my example, she would be entitled to 10 hours of overtime pay, but you would not know whether to compensate her at the overtime rate for office work or cleaning until you examined her daily time records.

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