Federal Overtime Pay Laws for 2020, 2021
Contents :: Federal Overtime Laws
What is Overtime Pay?
Most hourly employees are entitled to a special overtime pay rate for any hours worked over a total of 40 in a single work week (defined as any seven consecutive work days by the Fair Labor Standards Act).
While some states have daily overtime limit which entitles any employee who works for more then a certain number of hours in a single day to be paid overtime, the Federal government does not specify a daily overtime limit.
Federal Overtime Minimum Wage
Overtime pay, also called "time and a half pay", is one and a half times an employee's normal hourly wage. Therefore, Federal overtime minimum wage is $10.88 per hour, one and a half times the regular Federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. If you earn more then the Federal minimum wage rate, you are entitled to at least 1.5 times your regular hourly wage for all overtime worked.
Am I eligible for overtime pay?
Generally, hourly employees who earn under $455 per week ($23,660 per year) and who work in a non-exempt industry are eligible to receive overtime pay.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) automatically qualifies certain types of workers who meet overtime pay requirements to receive overtime for all hours worked over 40 in a single week (or daily overtime limits set by Federal overtime laws). If your work involves manual labor (such as construction worker, factory attendant, cashier, etc) you are probably protected under overtime law.
The FLSA specifically covers certain jobs, and exempts others from overtime pay. The following jobs are specifically covered by Federal overtime pay laws:
All first-responders, including police, paramedics, and firefighters, are specifically offered overtime protection under the FLSA.
Practical nurses and paralegals, who would otherwise fall under the exempted category, are also specifically protected by overtime law as these particular professionals often endure long hours of work, and may be exploited or overworked by their employers otherwise.
Overtime Exemptions Under Federal Law
Overtime laws nationally are designed to prevent workers from being exploited by their employers, with hourly wage earners (particularly those in blue-collar indistries) being the primarily protected group. Because of the nature of the work environment and working hours required by certain careers, there are a wide variety of specific exemptions to Federal overtime eligibility. Out of an estimated 120 million workers in America, almost 50 million are exempt from overtime law.
Executives, administrators, and other professionals earning at least $455 per week do not have to be paid overtime under Section 13(a)(1) of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
External salespeople (who often set their own hours) are also exempted from FE overtime requirements, as are some types of computer-related workers. Independent contractors, who are not considered legal employees, are also exempt from overtime law. Other exempt positions include some transportation workers, certain agricultural and farm workers, and some live-in employees such as housekeepers.
In order to determine if a job is exempt from overtime, the FLSA provides a series of tests to determine the overtime eligibility of an employee based on pay rate, working conditions, skill level, and other factors.
Jobs Exempt From Overtime Pay:
If your job fits into one of the four main exemption categories to overtime law (executive, administrative, professional, and outside sales), then you are not protected by Federal and federal overtime regulations.
Executive Overtime Exemptions
Your job is classified as an Executive position if your full-time responsibility is management of two or more employees. You must spend no more then 20% of your time doing other activities (or 40% in a retail environment), and your job should be a salaried position.
Administrative Overtime Exemptions
Your job is classified as an Administrative position if your primary duty is non-manual work related to business operations, management policies, or administrative training. Your job must be salaried to fulfill the requirements, and you must spend no more then 20% of your time doing activities that do not fit in the categories described above (or 40% in a retail environment).
Professional Overtime Exemptions
Your job is classified as a Professional position if your primary duties require advanced knowledge and extensive education, including artists, certified teachers, and skilled computer professionals. Your job must be salaried, primarily intellectual, and you must be expected to use discression and judgement. You must spend no more then 20% of your time doing activities that are not directly related to the duties described above in order to be classified as a Professional.
Outside Sales Overtime Exemptions
Your job is classified as an Outside Sales position if your main duties are making sales or taking orders outside of their employer's main workplace. You may be paid either a salary or commission-based structure, but you must not spend more then 20% of your time doing work other then sales to fall under this classification.
If your job falls under any of the four categories described above, then you are not covered by federal or Federal unemployment regulations and your employer is not required to pay you an overtime premium.
I'm eligible for overtime, but my employer didn't pay me!
If your job is eligible for overtime protection under state and Federal overtime law as described above, your employer is required by law to pay you an overtime premium for all qualifying overtime hours worked. If your employer owes you overtime pay, a Department of Labor office in your state will work with you to ensure you receive your fair wages for all hours worked.
In 2008, close to 200,000 employees sucessfully received a total of $140,200,000 (140.2 million dollars) in overtime and minimum wage backwages from their employers as a result of filing an FLSA violation claim.
If you believe your employer owes you overtime, learn how to file an overtime claim under the FLSA.
Labor Law Footnotes, Sources & Citations:
Federal Min Wage - $7.25 per hour as of 2021