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Am I eligible for overtime pay? Part 1

It seems like overtime should be a straightforward topic. If a person works more than 20 hours a week for a part-time position, or more than 40 hours a week for a full-time one, he or she should be paid overtime. Right? Not exactly. When it comes to the question of work and pay, there is no such thing as straightforward.

There are two different bodies of law that regulate wage and hour laws: state and federal. The Fair Labor Standards Act is the federal law that requires employers to pay employees time and a half for overtime work, assuming that the employee meets the qualifications for a nonexempt employee.

Ask yourself three questions to help determine if you are a nonexempt employee covered by the FLSA:

  • What do you make on a yearly basis from one employer? If you make less than $23,600 per year (or $455 per week), you may be considered nonexempt.
  • Are you considered a salaried employee? This question muddies the water a bit as it is not so much whether your employer classifies you as being salaried as it is whether you are guaranteed a minimum amount of payment every month. If you are not salaried and are not in the category of jobs that are excluded from coverage by the FLSA (e.g. newspaper delivery person and babysitter), you may be entitled to overtime pay.
  • What duties do you perform? The FLSA excludes employees in a management position. So if you are the person considered "in charge" of a group of underlings at any given time period, there's a good chance you are an exempt employee.

If you are one of those workers who happen to make less than $23,600 a year, are not employed in an exempt category and are not in a managerial position, you are likely nonexempt and thus entitled to overtime in accordance with the FLSA. Because the FLSA has stringent criteria concerning who can and cannot receive overtime pay, and since the number of people who fall into the FLSA exempt category outnumber the FLSA nonexempt ones, it is worthwhile checking with an employment law attorney if you are unsure into which category you fall.

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