Overtime Labor Laws

Federal overtime laws, designed to help end the exempt vs. non-exempt debate, have made things worse. To non-exempt and exempt employees, labor laws continue to confuse.

Business Management Daily can help you comply with federal overtime laws. Learn when you have to pay overtime, and when you don’t.

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Here’s a caution for employers tempted to ignore a wage-and-hour lawsuit: Do so and you might as well just admit to the employees’ allegations. All the court has to do is determine the damages—plus figure out how much in legal fees the employer owes the employees.

Employers are responsible for keeping track of the hours and minutes their employees work. If they can’t show their records are accurate, an underpaid overtime case can get costly. That’s because—absent reliable employer records—courts will let employees fill in the timekeeping details.

Q. Our employees work irregular schedules. They may work for two weeks and then be off for three. Can we pay them every two weeks based on their average yearly income and, if they work more, pay them at an hourly rate?
Q. Our employee manual doesn’t address compen­satory time off, but we have offered certain exempt managers an hour of comp time for every hour of overtime worked. Do we have to pay them for accrued comp time when we terminate them? In the past, we’ve paid comp time to some, but not to ­others. Can we negotiate our own terms with each employee?
Brooklyn’s Flaum Appetizing has settled a long-running pay dispute with 20 Hispanic employees at its Williams­burg plant. The kosher food maker and deli agreed to pay the workers $577,000 to settle the dispute.
Walmart has agreed to pay $4.8 million to settle U.S. Department of Labor charges that it misclassified employees working at vision centers in the retail giant’s stores.

Determining the amount of overtime pay depends on identifying an em­­ployee’s hourly rate for the first 40 hours. That can sometimes be more complicated than it sounds, especially for organizations that pay their hourly employees a set amount for their entire workweek, including overtime.

Q. Things are still tight, but our company is picking up. We’d like to have our employees work extra hours in exchange for extra time off when we finally can hire more staff. Can we do this?
The first step to controlling overtime costs is to establish a sound policy forbidding unauthorized extra work for hourly employees. But a “no unauthorized overtime” policy is just the beginning. You must also enforce the policy for all nonexempt employees, and make sure managers understand why it is important.
Want to stop supervisors who allow off-the-clock work or look the other way when employees work extra hours that should be paid overtime? Remind them that not only are their actions illegal under the FLSA, but they may be held personally liable in a lawsuit. That means their own assets are on the line, not just their employer’s.
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