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Know Your Rights: Can I Get Paid Working Overtime?

Know Your Rights: Can I Get Paid Working Overtime?

It’s getting to the end of the day–the moment you have been waiting for all day to leave work. Then, something unexpected happens–an emergency, a deadline that wasn’t met or an annoying customer. Before you know it, you have stayed on longer than you should. And for some people, this is a daily occurrence. But what does this mean if you are a non-exempt worker?

Almost half of Americans work more than 50 hours a week.[1] When you consider that the average working hours is less than 30 hours a week in countries like France, Denmark, the Netherlands and Germany,[2] you realize how overworked the average American must be. So it is even more important to know whether you should be getting paid for those extra hours or not.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) states that employees need to be categorized as exempt or non-exempt. The most significant difference is the issue of being entitled to overtime pay.

Non-exempt workers must be paid overtime.

A non exempt employee, as the name suggests, is not exempt from the FLSA rules. They must be paid at least the minimum hourly rate.

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If they work more than 40-hours a week, they must be paid overtime at the rate of not less than 1.5 times their hourly rate for each hour. The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour but some states offer a higher minimum hourly rate.[3]

Pros:

  • You are entitled to overtime rates.
  • You have the option to earn more money (if you wish) by opting to work overtime.

Cons:

  • You stand to lose money if your hours ever reduced.
  • Depending on the company, you may not have the same benefits and perks as an exempt worker.

Exempt workers are not entitled to overtime pay.

An exempt employee must be paid a salary (as opposed to an hourly rate), which means they will not be entitled to overtime pay. These workers receive above minimum wage rates and must earn at least $455 a week in order to meet the threshold set by the FLSA.

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They tend to work in the capacity of an executive, administrative, professional or sometimes sales.

In November 2016, a federal judge issued an injunction to stop a new rule by that would have increased the exempt salary threshold from $23,600 a year to $47,476 a year. But according to the Society for Human Resource Management,

“For now, the overtime rule will not take effect as planned Dec. 1 [2016], but it could still be implemented later down the road.”

Pros:

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  • You have a reliable and fixed income monthly.
  • You often earn more based on a salary than those who get paid an hourly rate.
  • You often have more access to better benefits and perks.

Cons:

  • You are not entitled to overtime rates.
  • You may have to work much longer hours in order to meet your workload.

Know your rights and be a smart employee.

Now that you understand the difference between non-exempt and exempt employees, time to evaluate your work and know when you’re entitled to get paid.

1. Be aware of the “clock in and out” system.

If you work on a “clock in and out” system, ensure that you are being paid for all the hours you work. For instance, some employers may force workers to clock out for lunch even if they work through their lunch, or clock out when they end up staying later.

2. Starting early could mean working overtime too.

Some employers may ask you to start early so that there is time to put your uniform on or to attend meetings or trainings, etc. If this happens and you work on a clock system, you are entitled to get paid for that time.

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3. Stay up-to-date with salary policies.

The Department of Labor, with the support of many Congress members, is trying to appeal the injunction to change the law for the exempt salary threshold. Check their website to stay up-to-date with any developments.

If you have any doubts about your exempt or non-exempt rights, or feel you are not being treated fairly, contact the Department of Labor.

Featured photo credit: Flaticon via flaticon.com

Reference

More by this author

J.S. von Dacre

Writer at Lifehack

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Last Updated on December 13, 2019

7 Steps For Making a New Year’s Resolution and Keeping It

7 Steps For Making a New Year’s Resolution and Keeping It

Are you keen to reinvent yourself this year? Or at least use the new year as a long overdue excuse to get rid of bad habits or pick up new ones?

Yes, it’s that time of year again. The time of year when we feel as if we have to turn over a new leaf. The time when we misguidedly imagine that the arrival of a new year will magically provide the catalyst, motivation and persistence we need to reinvent ourselves.

Traditionally, New Year’s Day is styled as the ideal time to kick start a new phase in your life and the time when you must make your all important new year’s resolution. Unfortunately, the beginning of the year is also one of the worst times to make a major change in your habits because it’s often a relatively stressful time, right in the middle of the party and vacation season.

Don’t set yourself up for failure this year by vowing to make huge changes that will be hard to keep. Instead follow these seven steps for successfully making a new year’s resolution you can stick to for good.

1. Just Pick One Thing

If you want to change your life or your lifestyle don’t try to change the whole thing at once. It won’t work. Instead pick one area of your life to change to begin with.

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Make it something concrete so you know exactly what change you’re planning to make. If you’re successful with the first change you can go ahead and make another change after a month or so. By making small changes one after the other, you still have the chance to be a whole new you at the end of the year and it’s a much more realistic way of doing it.

Don’t pick a New Year’s resolution that’s bound to fail either, like running a marathon if you’re 40lbs overweight and get out of breath walking upstairs. If that’s the case resolve to walk every day. When you’ve got that habit down pat you can graduate to running in short bursts, constant running by March or April and a marathon at the end of the year. What’s the one habit you most want to change?

2. Plan Ahead

To ensure success you need to research the change you’re making and plan ahead so you have the resources available when you need them. Here are a few things you should do to prepare and get all the systems in place ready to make your change.

Read up on it – Go to the library and get books on the subject. Whether it’s quitting smoking, taking up running or yoga or becoming vegan there are books to help you prepare for it. Or use the Internet. If you do enough research you should even be looking forward to making the change.

Plan for success – Get everything ready so things will run smoothly. If you’re taking up running make sure you have the trainers, clothes, hat, glasses, ipod loaded with energetic sounds at the ready. Then there can be no excuses.

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3. Anticipate Problems

There will be problems so make a list of what they’ll be. If you think about it, you’ll be able to anticipate problems at certain times of the day, with specific people or in special situations. Once you’ve identified the times that will probably be hard work out ways to cope with them when they inevitably crop up.

4. Pick a Start Date

You don’t have to make these changes on New Year’s Day. That’s the conventional wisdom, but if you truly want to make changes then pick a day when you know you’ll be well-rested, enthusiastic and surrounded by positive people. I’ll be waiting until my kids go back to school in February.

Sometimes picking a date doesn’t work. It’s better to wait until your whole mind and body are fully ready to take on the challenge. You’ll know when it is when the time comes.

5. Go for It

On the big day go for it 100%. Make a commitment and write it down on a card. You just need one short phrase you can carry in your wallet. Or keep it in your car, by your bed and on your bathroom mirror too for an extra dose of positive reinforcement.

Your commitment card will say something like:

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  • I enjoy a clean, smoke-free life.
  • I stay calm and in control even under times of stress.
  • I’m committed to learning how to run my own business.
  • I meditate daily.

6. Accept Failure

If you do fail and sneak a cigarette, miss a walk or shout at the kids one morning don’t hate yourself for it. Make a note of the triggers that caused this set back and vow to learn a lesson from them.

If you know that alcohol makes you crave cigarettes and oversleep the next day cut back on it. If you know the morning rush before school makes you shout then get up earlier or prepare things the night before to make it easier on you.

Perseverance is the key to success. Try again, keep trying and you will succeed.

7. Plan Rewards

Small rewards are great encouragement to keep you going during the hardest first days. After that you can probably reward yourself once a week with a magazine, a long-distance call to a supportive friend, a siesta, a trip to the movies or whatever makes you tick.

Later you can change the rewards to monthly and then at the end of the year you can pick an anniversary reward. Something that you’ll look forward to. You deserve it and you’ll have earned it.

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Whatever your plans and goals are for this year, I’d do wish you luck with them but remember, it’s your life and you make your own luck.

Decide what you want to do this year, plan how to get it and go for it. I’ll definitely be cheering you on.

Are you planning to make a New Year’s resolution? What is it and is it something you’ve tried to do before or something new? Why not pick one from this list: 50 New Year’s Resolution Ideas And How To Achieve Each Of Them

Featured photo credit: Ian Schneider via unsplash.com

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