How to Determine Overtime Pay

Once upon a time in America, many employers exploited their workers by forcing them to work in harsh conditions, with little pay and no benefits for compensation. Not only did employers force workers to toil in often inhumane conditions, but they also made their employees work ridiculously long hours.

The poor conditions took a toll on workers both physically and mentally. With mounting pressure from the American public and newly formed unions, the United States Congress passed the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to address the terrible working conditions of the American workplace.

One section of the comprehensive FLSA addresses the issue of overtime pay. Before the enactment of the FLSA, many employers forced their workers to stay on the job well beyond the typical number of daily and weekly hours on the clock. Within the FLSA, Congress added language that requires employers to pay their workers a premium of 50 percent per every hour of overtime worked. The FLSA also established the minimum threshold of hours a worker has to put in before qualifying for overtime pay.

How to figure overtime pay involves both employers and their workers maintaining meticulously accurate timekeeping records. The digital era has made accounting for worker hours much easier than it was when the FLSA became law in 1938. Nonetheless, some employers still try to get around the FLSA by practicing illegal tactics such as paying employees under the table to avoid paying for overtime.

If your employer has cheated you out of overtime pay, you have the right to file a claim seeking monetary damages for one or more violations of the FLSA. At Morgan & Morgan, we have represented workers that deserved to be paid overtime ever since we established our law firm in 1988. 

Do not allow your employer to get away with paying you regular pay for overtime work. Schedule a free case evaluation with one of our employment attorneys to learn how to figure overtime pay.

More answers to commonly asked questions

Federal and most state laws have established a weekly standard to calculate overtime pay. For example, a worker puts in 10 hours on Monday and Tuesday, but works just six hours a day for the next three days. The worker has accumulated 38 hours for the week, which is two hours fewer than the worker needs to become eligible for overtime pay.

A small number of states like California have created a daily standard for determining overtime pay in addition to the weekly standard. In our example above, the worker who put in 10 hours on Monday and Tuesday is entitled to receive four hours of overtime pay. The states that follow the daily standard for calculating overtime pay require employers to pay time and a half to every employee that works more than eight hours per day.

Although the FLSA requires a vast majority of employers to pay overtime, not every employer is required to pay time and a half for workers that put in more hours than the weekly or daily standard for calculating overtime. Businesses that generate at least $500,000 in yearly sales typically have to pay workers overtime. If a business generates less than $500,000 annually and it conducts what Congress refers to as interstate commerce, then the business must pay overtime. Even if you work for a company that does meet the federal legal threshold established by the FLSA, the state where you live might have enacted an overtime law that makes all employers legally liable for paying overtime.

Check with one of the employment lawyers at Morgan & Morgan to learn how to figure overtime pay according to state law.

According to the FLSA, eligible employees must receive overtime pay for every hour worked over 40 hours per workweek. Since employers have the flexibility to define what constitutes a workweek, federal law requires employers to pay overtime for more than 40 hours worked per workweek over seven consecutive days. An independent restaurant that starts a workweek on Tuesday and ends it on the following Monday must follow the same seven consecutive days standard as a business that starts a workweek on a Monday and ends it on the next Sunday.

For states such as California, how to figure overtime begins for every hour worked over eight hours per day. If an employee works eight hours and 45 minutes on a particular day, the employer must compensate the worker for eight hours at regular pay and 45 minutes at overtime pay. 

Let’s say you worked 10 hours on a Monday, 11 hours on a Tuesday, and nine hours on a Friday during the same workweek. Your employer must pay your two hours of overtime pay for Monday, three hours of overtime pay for Tuesday, and one hour of overtime pay for Friday. If you make $20 an hour, you receive $20 an hour for 24 hours of work and $30 for six hours of overtime work.

Despite the clear language written into the FLSA and state employment laws, a growing number of companies try to avoid paying overtime to eligible employees. Since 2005, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) states the number of overtime violations and wrongful termination cases has increased “significantly” with each passing year.

If your employer violated the FLSA or state law by failing to pay you overtime, you have the right to seek legal counsel from an employment lawyer. To learn how to figure overtime pay, you should first find the right employment law attorney.


Ask friends and family members for recommendations when it comes to a state-licensed employment attorney. Receiving a recommendation from someone you trust can save you both time and money. If you cannot get a recommendation from a trusted friend or relative, expand your network to include neighbors and professional peers. You can ask any lawyer that you know for a recommendation as well. Remember that you must conduct research on an employment lawyer that is recommended to you by someone you trust.

State Bar Association Website

Every state bar association runs a website that includes a “Find a Lawyer” feature. Simply type “Employment Lawyer” into the search box located on the “Find a Lawyer” page to receive a list of attorneys that practice employment law in your state. Every state bar association website also presents information about each attorney’s conduct. Stay away from an attorney or a law firm that has received several courtroom citations for misconduct.

Conduct Research by Accessing Attorney Websites

Like other types of businesses, lawyers develop websites to market their services. You can expect to read plenty of positive client testimonials. What you want from an employment lawyer’s website is a description of the work the attorney has completed for employment law cases. Any lawyer on your shortlist must specialize in employment law for you to consider moving forward with the next step.

Read Online Client Reviews

Online client reviews should not be the most important factor that helps you choose an employment law attorney. The feedback received by an attorney from clients should be the confirmation you need to select the best candidate on your shortlist. Read the client reviews left on sites such as Yelp and Google, while not reading the client reviews left on an attorney’s Facebook page. The client reviews left on Facebook pages might be biased or the lawyer requested certain former clients to leave positive reviews.

Schedule Free Case Evaluations

After you have conducted extensive research on every candidate on your shortlist, the time has come to schedule a free case evaluation with each attorney. If a lawyer does not offer a free case evaluation, cross the name of the attorney off your shortlist.

A free case evaluation is important for more reasons than you receive a free consultation. This is the point when you decide on which attorney will represent you against your employer. Come to the free case evaluation prepared by asking the right questions, especially when it comes to learning how to figure overtime pay.

According to state and federal law, most workers qualify for overtime pay. However, several categories of American workers are exempt from state and federal overtime laws.

As the broadest category of exempt workers, independent contractors receive compensation for providing professional services for a business, but they do not constitute a part of an employer’s workforce. For example, a worker that provides services as a freelancer is considered an independent contractor. A growing number of businesses have tried to exploit the overtime exemption for independent contractors by reclassifying workers as independent contractors.

If your employer has reclassified you as an independent contractor, you should speak with one of the employment law attorneys at Morgan & Morgan to determine the best course of legal action.

Executives and administrators that receive a salary do not qualify for overtime under federal law, as well as most state overtime statutes. Sales representatives that work away from their company’s business do not qualify for overtime pay as well. Certain computer specialists that earn at least $27.63 an hour do not qualify for overtime pay protection under state and federal laws.

Before you schedule a free case evaluation, determine how an attorney charges clients for legal services. You want to work with an experienced employment lawyer who charges clients on a contingency fee basis. Hourly compensation to an employment lawyer can quickly send your legal bill into thousands of dollars. Although you want to be compensated fairly for overtime, you also might have enough of a case to seek monetary damages for pain and suffering. Maybe the failure of your employer to pay you overtime caused you to fall behind on bills.

At Morgan & Morgan, we will conduct a thorough investigation into your case to decide whether to file a lawsuit for negligence. If your employer knew about overtime violations, we might be able to prove negligence on the part of your employer.

Learn how to figure overtime pay by scheduling a free case evaluation with one of the highly skilled employment lawyers at Morgan & Morgan.