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Do I qualify for overtime pay?

You work your tail off, oftentimes working more than your scheduled hours. Are you entitled to overtime pay? It depends.

evident Editorial Team
published
August 15, 2021
Construction workers looking over worksite

You work your tail off, oftentimes working more than your scheduled hours. Are you entitled to overtime pay? It depends.

A key question is whether your employer is covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) or a similar state law. The FLSA is a federal law that applies to many employers, and specifically those that:

  • Have more than $500,000 in annual revenue, or
  • Engage in interstate commerce

Keep in mind that state laws may cover employers even if they do not meet the FLSA criteria, and can be more generous about whether employees qualify for overtime pay.

Information about state overtime laws - referred to as “Premium Pay After Designated Hours” - is available here.

Key Takeaways

Who’s included and who’s not

If your employer is covered by the FLSA (or an applicable state law), it must pay overtime to nonexempt employees.

So what does it mean to be exempt? It really just means you fit under one of the exceptions to the general rule that all employees must receive overtime pay.

Some common types of workers that are exempt and therefore not entitled to overtime pay include:

  • independent contractors
  • seasonal or recreational employees (such as at ski resorts or certain camps)
  • administrative, executive or professional employees (more on this below)
  • outside salespeople
  • some computer specialists
  • and other groups including newspaper deliverers, certain small farm workers, and criminal investigators

But, if your employer falls under the FLSA and you do not fall under one of the exceptions, you are entitled to overtime pay.

Administrative, executive or professional employees

This is one of the most common exceptions to overtime eligibility. It applies to employees who meet certain criteria related to their salaries and their job duties, and is not necessarily determined by job title.

A basic requirement for this exception is that you must make at least $684 per week on a salary basis. Additional criteria to fall under the exceptions include:

  • Executive exemption - If your primary duties are managerial; you regularly supervise at least two other full-time employees; and you have meaningful input into decisions to hire and fire other employees
  • Administrative exemption - If your primary duty is office work (meaning not manual labor), and your primary duty also includes exercising discretion and independent judgment
  • Professional exemption - If your primary duties require advanced knowledge “in a field of science or learning,” or your primary duties require imagination, originality or talent in a creative or artistic field

If you’re not sure whether this exception applies to you, more information is available on the U.S. Department of Labor’s website here.

When are you entitled to overtime pay?

You are generally entitled to overtime pay if you have worked more than 40 hours in one week.

State rules can be different, though. For instance, in some states including California, you may be eligible for overtime pay if you work more than eight hours in one day even if you don’t work over 40 hours in a week.

Some state laws, or your employment agreement, might also entitle you to overtime pay for working nights, weekends, or public holidays. The FLSA, though, does not require employers to pay overtime for weekend or night work.

How much is overtime pay?

Overtime pay is typically 150% of your normal hourly rate, also referred to as “time and a half.” So if you work 50 hours in a week, you would get 40 hours at your regular rate of pay, plus 10 hours at 150% of your normal rate of pay. Here's an example of what that might look like:

Bar showing $100 difference in pay when overtime rate is used

And more good news - if your state has an overtime law, then you are entitled to overtime at whichever rate is higher. So similar to the rules for minimum wage, if state law sets a higher standard, then you get that better rate.

The bottom line on overtime pay

Whether you qualify for overtime pay depends on a few factors, including how many hours you work, what type of work you do, and what type of employer you work for.

Typically, eligible employees qualify for overtime pay if they work more than 40 hours in a week. Unfortunately, some types of workers are not eligible for overtime such as the so-called "administrative, executive or professional employees" who are paid on a salary basis. On the plus side, though, state or local rules vary and your threshold for overtime pay could be even lower (e.g., California workers may qualify if they work more than eight hours in a day).

Be sure to check the rules in your state to see if you qualify for "time and a half."