Before 1938, employees were made to work until they dropped without recourse to a raft of protections, including payment for hours worked over and above their allotted hours. However, since the FLSA, employers have been legally obliged to offer their workers overtime pay.
This is an excellent win for the average Joe as it means that they can gain additional payment for the fruits of their labor, enabling them to earn a living wage actually to live rather than simply exist. This post will explain the laws surrounding overtime payments so that businesses can stay compliant and get their affairs in order.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) Governs Overtime Pay In The United States
As briefly mentioned, the FLSA was written into law in 1938, and since then, it has helped the average worker to gain access to what they are rightfully owed.
In fact, this act outlines a broad range of things related to employment, not only over time. For instance, according to this overtime lawyer in Los Angeles, your employer could be liable if they have abused your rights regarding adequate breaks, back pay issues, etc.
The most recent proposal and amendments to the FLSA have adopted the eight-hour day and forty-hour workweek as a foundation. The act stipulates that employees must be paid the minimum overtime rate of at least one and a half times their regular pay. While this might seem frustrating for employers looking to reduce expenses, you should consider the following.
Employees who deem themselves to be treated fairly by their employer are often far more productive than those who believe they are being taken advantage of. Consequently, you more than offset what you lose in additional costs with increased productivity and happy, loyal employees.
Businesses need to understand that while federal overtime laws are in place, some states have their own overtime laws that may differ. This means that companies must comply with both federal and state laws, and failure to do so can result in legal penalties. For example, California’s overtime law tends to align with the FLSA.
Other states, such as New York and Massachusetts, also have their overtime laws, which provide additional protections for employees, such as for national days, etc. (although they used to have a premium payment option for Sundays, this has been dramatically reduced to just 1.1 times of regular pay.)
Employers Are Required To Keep Accurate Records Of All Hours Worked By Their Employees
This shouldn’t be much of a surprise, but employers are legally required to keep records of their employee’s hours worked. Nevertheless, this isn’t too much of an issue for most employers since they need to do this anyway when recording payroll. However, keeping accurate records goes beyond simply tracking the number of hours worked each day.
It also means documenting any breaks taken, such as meal times or rest periods, and keeping track of any overtime hours earned by employees. Failing to keep accurate records can lead to legal issues, including costly fines from government agencies.
In addition, it can create problems for employees who are not paid correctly for all the hours they work. Employers can use various methods to track employee hours, including time clocks, electronic systems, and manual timesheets. Nonetheless, whichever approach is used, it’s essential to ensure that it accurately reflects the actual time worked by each employee.
Employees Cannot Waive Their Right To Overtime Pay
This might sound like a peculiar dictate, but his law is in place to avoid employers coercing their employees to waive their right to overtime in an attempt to reduce their overtime bill. Because some unscrupulous workplaces might use scare tactics to get their employees to refuse over time (such as leaning on them or threatening their employment), it is easier to make it a rule that workers are not allowed to decide to waive their rights unilaterally.
Another provision of the FLSA and somewhat similar to the last point is that employers cannot require their staff to work off the clock. This would be considered a flagrant abuse of power and looked upon very unkindly by an employment tribunal.
There Are Exemptions To The Overtime Rule, But They Are Narrowly Defined
There are some exemptions to the rule regarding overtime pay because the act aims to compensate those at the lower end of the salary spectrum. Essentially, the act states that certain employees working in professional or highly compensated jobs (among a few others) are excluded from additional pay unless their employer reimburses them of their own volition.
As you can see, overtime laws are clearly defined and exist to protect those who might otherwise lose out. While there are some exclusions, they tend to focus on employees earning significantly more and working in higher-end professions.