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Can we require overtime work?

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in Human Resources,Overtime Labor Laws

Q. When our business gets busy, is it legal for us to require our nonexempt employees to work overtime on occasion?

A. Yes. As long as the employee is not covered under a collective bargaining agreement or employment contract that included conflicting terms, employers may require employees to work overtime and can discharge or discipline employees who refuse.

The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not limit the number of hours per day or week that an em­­ployer may require its employees to work. According to the Texas Workforce Commission, employers may set employees’ schedules.

The only requirement is that employers must pay nonexempt em­­ployees time and a half for the hours they work in excess of 40 in a seven-day workweek.

The Texas Workforce Commission states, “[w]ith only extremely narrow exceptions relating to certain regulated industries or collective bargaining agreements, adults, as well as youths ages 16 or 17, may work, and/or may be required to work, unlimited hours each day (the only limits are employee morale, practical realities, and common sense in general).” Exceptions include:

Employees in the retail sector: According to the commission, “A retail employer must allow full-time em­­ployees (defined as those who work more than 30 hours in a week) at least one 24-hour period off in seven….” That means employees must be allowed to have at least one day off each week. Another exception exists for employees who have been continuously employed with the same retail business since Aug. 31, 1985.

Nurses: Under a Texas law that went into effect in 2009, mandatory overtime for registered nurses and licensed vocational nurses is permissible only in disaster and other emergency situations.

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