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How Much Overtime Can an Employer Require?

How Much Overtime Can an Employer Require?

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How Much Overtime Can an Employer Require?

If you wonder, “how much overtime can an employer require?” the answer might surprise you. At this time, there are no federal laws limiting the amount of overtime an employer can ask you to work. Although some industries restrict the amount of overtime employees can work for safety reasons or require mandatory rest breaks after a certain amount of consecutive work hours.

However, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) determines that employers must pay workers adequately for all overtime worked. Unfortunately, some employers misclassify employees as exempt or deny them their rightful overtime pay in other ways. Such conduct is unlawful, and you could have legal recourse if you are missing overtime pay. 

Morgan & Morgan knows the games some employers play to avoid paying employees their due. Our attorneys have assisted countless workers with recovering the wages they have rightfully earned. Contact us to find out how we can help you get what you deserve.

What Qualifies as Overtime?

Unless exempt, individuals working more than 40 hours in a workweek are entitled to overtime pay as per the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). There is no limit on how much overtime an employer can require. According to federal law, overtime pay is not required for work on weekends and holidays unless the employee is accruing overtime on those days.  

Overtime Pay

According to the FLSA, employers must pay overtime at time and a half. However, there can be exceptions for law enforcement officers, firefighters, and healthcare workers. In some cases, state law diverges from federal law regarding overtime pay. In states where this is the case, a worker is generally entitled to overtime pay according to the higher standard. 

Can an Employer Force You to Work Overtime?

According to the FLSA, an employer can demand overtime and terminate your employment if you refuse to work extra hours. Moreover, an employer can potentially require unlimited amounts of overtime. However, the FLSA states that employers must pay employees overtime for any time worked over 40 hours in a week. Notably, a workweek does not have to conform to a calendar week. A week is defined as a block of seven consecutive 24-hour days for overtime purposes.

There can be some limited instances when an employer can not force you to work overtime, such as:

Your Contract States Otherwise

In most states, written employment contracts are not required. Indeed, the majority of U.S. workers are not employed with a written contract. However, if you have a contract with your employer, the requirement to work overtime may be restricted by any terms. If you are a union member, you can check with your agent regarding the overtime. 

Health and Safety Is Compromised

In some industries, such as trucking and passenger transport, driving for long hours without rest is prohibited. Truckers are generally prohibited from being on duty for more than 14 hours and driving more than 11 hours in one day. Passenger carriers, such as bus drivers, may only be on duty for 15 hours a day and actively drive for a maximum of 10 hours. Strict hours and rest period requirements ensure that drivers are not overly fatigued and pose a safety risk.

A Labor Lawyer Could Help

You may have legal grounds for challenging your employer’s mandatory overtime requirement in some limited circumstances. Your overtime rights as a worker can also depend on your state’s wage and hour laws and the industry you work in. 

In general, refusing to work overtime without facing negative consequences, such as getting terminated, can be tricky. However, it may not be impossible to avoid working mandatory overtime, depending on your circumstances. For example, if you are covered by the Americans with Disability Act (ADA), refusing overtime could be a reasonable accommodation required for your condition. An employment attorney can clarify your rights and help you learn about legal avenues that may be open to you.

Mandatory Overtime Can Cause Injuries and Accidents

Many employees welcome the opportunity to work additional hours, as overtime pay can provide them with an increased income. However, some are forced to work long hours and feel exhausted, stressed, and constantly tired. Nurses, for example, are routinely required to work up to 16 hours a day — a practice which, the American Nurses Association says, compromises the safety of patients.

Mandatory overtime can result in overworked employees who may be more likely to experience work-related accidents and injuries. Other common problems from working excessively long hours can include:

  • Prolonged stress can cause cardiovascular and other health problems
  • Mental health issues such as anxiety and depression
  • Difficulty meeting family obligations such as childcare

Several states have passed laws in recent years restricting mandatory overtime for nurses. However, turning down overtime requests is not an option for most other employees. If you feel that an employer harasses you or coerces you into working excessively long hours, consider seeking legal advice to find out if you have legal recourse.

Morgan & Morgan Can Stand Up for Your Rights

Morgan & Morgan wants American workers to be treated fairly and receive what they are entitled to under the law. While the amount of overtime an employer can require is potentially unlimited, you may have legal options for asserting your rights as an employee. Our dedicated and experienced employment attorneys are here to help. We can:

  • Determine all your options for receiving what you deserve
  • Identify your legal rights and advocate for you
  • Help you recover the overtime pay you are entitled to
  • Hold your employer accountable for violating any labor laws or regulations
  • File a lawsuit against your employer on your behalf
  • Gather evidence to prove and build your case
  • Negotiate a fair settlement for back pay and other damages
  • Fight for your best interests vigorously at trial
  • Work for you on a no-win-no-fee basis without charging a dime upfront 

If you need advice regarding your employment and overtime rights, we can be here for you 24/7. Our wage and overtime lawyers have handled employment claims for decades and helped countless workers prevail against their employers and receive what they deserve. 

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FAQ

Morgan & Morgan

  • Can an Employer Force Me to Work Overtime Without Notice?

    An employer could require you to work more than 40 hours per week without notice. As per federal law, the employer must pay you adequately for the overtime worked. However, there are no other restrictions placed on most employers regarding overtime.
     

  • What Is Mandatory Overtime, and Is It Legal?

    Mandatory overtime occurs when your employer demands that you work more than 40 hours a week. An employer does not have to:

    • Ask if you are willing and able to work extra hours 
    • Offer you an alternative
    • Give you a choice of hours

    In most cases, your boss can legally force you to work mandatory overtime and fire you if you refuse. 
     

  • My Employer Says I Am Exempt From Receiving Overtime Pay; Is This Correct? 

    Many employees may not receive the overtime pay they are entitled to due to an employer classifying them as exempt. Determining whether an employee is truly exempt from receiving overtime pay can be challenging as there can be some gray areas. According to the FLSA, the five main categories of exemptions include the following “white collar” positions:

    • Executive
    • Administrative
    • Professional
    • Computer
    • Outside sales 

    While there can be other exemptions, businesses frequently misclassify workers to avoid paying costly overtime wages. 

    How Employers Try to Avoid Paying Overtime

    You may believe that you are not entitled to overtime because you receive a salary, tips, or commissions. However, your employer could deny overtime pay that you are owed by:

    Misclassifying You as an Independent Contractor

    Employers often misclassify employees as independent contractors to avoid paying payroll taxes, benefits, and overtime. 

    Stating That You Are Exempt 

    You could still be entitled to overtime pay regardless of whether you are in a supervisory or managerial role and receive a salary, tips, or commission.

    Failing to Calculate Your Overtime Pay Accurately

    When calculating the correct rate of overtime pay, your employer should include all your income, including commission, bonuses, and other wages you earn during the workweek. 

    Failing to Count All Your Work Hours 

    Failing to count your work hours accurately is also called working off the clock. For example, if you spend time setting up for work or cleaning up after your shift is finished, this time counts as work. Other times that may count towards work hours can include: on-call time, travel time, break times, work meetings, time spent at home answering calls or emails, and other work activities.

    There can be other reasons why you are not receiving the overtime pay you are owed. If you are not sure whether you should be receiving overtime pay, contact an employment law attorney to learn about your rights and legal options.

  • Could I Receive Compensation for Missed Overtime Pay?

    If you win a lawsuit against your employer, they may have to pay back wages going back several years and interest accrued on the missing wages. Moreover, if a court decides to penalize your employer, they may have to pay you double the back pay owed. Your employer may also have to pay for your attorney’s fees and legal expenses. 

    Your Next Best Steps if You Are Missing Overtime Pay

    If your employer did not pay you adequately for any overtime work, you can, in the first instance, approach them directly and ask for payment of back wages. If you are unable to get what you deserve, you could have two other options.

    Filing a Claim With the U.S. Department of Labor

    If you are experiencing any kind of wage theft, including not getting paid for overtime, you could file a claim with your local DOL office. The department can handle your missing wages claim, including the payment process. 

    Filing a Lawsuit

    If all else fails, consider scheduling a consultation with an employment lawyer and determine whether you could file a civil lawsuit against your employer. Morgan & Morgan’s lawyers can assess your missing overtime wages case and move forward with a legal claim against your employer.

  • Can I Refuse to Work Overtime?

    As we have seen, an employer can potentially ask you to work unlimited amounts of overtime. Under normal circumstances, you would not have grounds for refusing a request. However, there are some instances where you could refuse to work overtime, including but not limited to:  

    • Working overtime could create a health or safety hazard
    • You are not paid overtime rates according to the law
    • The overtime breaches the terms of your employment contract
    • You cannot work overtime due to a family emergency
    • Your state law limits mandatory overtime

    In these situations, it would be unlawful for your employer to terminate you for refusing to work overtime. 

  • Contact Morgan & Morgan for Help Today 

    How much overtime an employer can require largely depends on the industry you work in and whether overtime is mentioned in your employment contract. Currently, most workers do not have the option of turning down an employer’s request for overtime.

    Mandatory overtime can be a significant health concern for America’s workers and all of us. Fatigued delivery drivers, drowsy construction workers, and overworked employees in other professions can cause injuries to themselves and others. At the very least, your employer must, by law, pay you fairly for the overtime you work. Therefore, if your company does not pay you time and a half for overtime, you could have a legal case and potentially receive back pay going back several years. 

    Morgan & Morgan is here to help you assert your employment rights and get what you deserve. Contact us now to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. 

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