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.
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.