There are many laws at the state, local and even federal levels that help manage the relationship between employers and employees. Some of the most basic and critical rights are the rights of hourly workers to a fair and reasonable wage.
Federal law sets specific minimum wages that employers must pay their hourly workers. Hourly workers also have the right to overtime compensation under federal law. Understanding when businesses have an obligation to pay overtime compensation can help employers remain in compliance with laws and employees advocate for their rights.
All hourly workers have a right to overtime pay
The first step toward determining if overtime pay is due is to establish whether the employee in question is an hourly worker or a salaried worker. Hourly workers have schedules that vary drastically from week to week. They may be part-time or full-time employees. Their compensation varies depending on the number of hours they work.
Salaried workers, on the other hand, have a more stable income situation. They are guaranteed the same weekly rate which is a portion of their annual salary regardless of how many hours they work. During slow seasons, salaried workers benefit because they don't necessarily have to work 40 hours to receive their salaried wage. In busier times, salaried workers may have to work substantially more than 40 hours without additional compensation.
Hourly workers are always entitled to overtime compensation if they work more than 40 hours. The only exception to this rule involves in-home child care providers. Their overtime rights kick in after 45 hours each week.
Set pay periods make overtime calculations easier
Employers can start and end the work week, also known as a pay period, at any point during the week. Although they commonly start on Mondays or on Fridays, any time is permissible provided that it is consistent from week to week. Employers may not manipulate the work week to avoid paying overtime obligations.
Knowing the actual work week is a critical piece of information for accurately calculating how many hours you've worked in a pay period. Anyone who works more than 40 hours during a given work week should receive time-and-a-half for those hours.
Wage and overtime violations can result in civil litigation
When employers and employees clash regarding what amount of compensation is appropriate, it could easily result in everyone heading to court. Employment and wage law cases can be expensive for everyone involved.
Whether you are a worker who finds themselves worried that they aren't receiving adequate pay for the work that they do or an employer attempting to defend against claims of wage violations, working with an attorney who understands employment law is critical to a positive outcome.