Forty hours a week is generally considered a full-time job. Therefore, any additional hours are considered overtime. Not only should you receive pay for those hours but, in most cases, you should receive pay that is higher than your normal hourly rate. The basic overtime rate is time-and-one-half; which means you receive your hourly rate plus one half for every additional hour worked. Due to the nature of modern commerce, however, you are not entitled to overtime rates under the law for working weekends, holidays, or other hours, which most people would consider unsociable.
The laws surrounding what constitutes overtime are not subject to interpretation. However, an employer may include overtime rates for working weekends, evenings, or night shifts as part of your contract of employment. Should such rates exist within a legal context, the employer is obligated to honor payments under contractual law. So, as you can see, the subject of overtime payment is not so clear cut as it seems. Neither state nor federal laws draw a line in the sand as to what your rights are. If you have worked overtime in accordance with your contract of employment, in most cases that contract will supersede any laws where you are not entitled to the agreed compensation under state or federal laws.
It is important to understand interpretation and what constitutes a legal requirement. The law is extremely stringent when it comes to the definition of the law. A poorly thought out and drafted contract will leave the employer liable to litigation. However, the same could be said of the employee’s ability to understand the contract from a legal perspective. In law, words matter. Your misinterpretation of the wording of a contract will not support your argument that you are owed overtime. There must exist an argument that you – the employee – have satisfied the conditions of your employment and any requirements to qualify for overtime.
For instance, your employer can offer one-off double time for periods of business which require additional work hours. However, that does not represent a contractual agreement that all such future situations constitute double time. Such agreements are between the employer and employees and, as such, do not fall under the letter of the law. While you are entitled to pay for the overtime that you work in accordance with applicable labor laws, you are not entitled to receive any additional payment that was not already agreed upon.
In most instances, bonus payments are protected under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). That means, you are entitled to bonus payments, which are equal to the percentage you would receive at your normal pay rate. Your bonus is not subject to the same increased rate as overtime. Therefore, you will not receive time-and-one-half on bonus payments, as you do with your base rate. The FLSA is set out to provide employers all the information they need to ensure you are paid fairly for the extra hours that you work. Your employer should be aware of their responsibilities under the law. However, should your employer neglect to pay you in accordance with the law, you can pursue the matter in a number of ways.
Your rights are protected under law. When an employer refuses to pay you overtime rates, he or she is breaking the law. There are a number of ways in which you can address the issue. First, you should speak to your direct supervisor or manager in an attempt to resolve the payment dispute. Make your manager aware of your rights under the law, without being confrontational, and seek to find an amicable resolution to the dispute. However, if you are unable to resolve the dispute through internal negotiations, you can pursue the matter legally.
You have the right to recourse for the hours that you work. Whether the amount you believe you are entitled to is justified under the law is an entirely different matter. If you are already locked in a payment dispute over additional hours worked, it is important to gather as much evidence as you can. You will need copies of contractual agreements and any other correspondence that could support your case that you have been insufficiently paid for your labor. You will have to prove that your employer is withholding pay that you are owed over the sum of your standard pay rate.
You are not restricted to government assistance in matters of overtime. You can also seek help from a labor lawyer, who can advise you on how to ensure you receive fair compensation for the additional hours that you work. A labor lawyer will know the laws that apply to your state and how they are interpreted under the law. Your employer may not even know that he is breaching the law, so hiring someone who specializes in employment law could really work in your favor.
Hire a labor lawyer
Many U.S. residents have successfully taken employers to court and won compensation for refusal to pay overtime at the proper rate. Similarly, employers can hire a labor lawyer to ensure that they are complying with both state and federal laws. Knowing the law, and how it affects a business, is essential to the success of small businesses. No business can afford unnecessary litigation. It is better for all parties involved to find a resolution and resolve all disputes before they reach court.