My Boss Doesn’t pay Overtime. What Should I do?

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If you are working over 40 hours per week, you are entitled to overtime pay. This is the case even if your boss says otherwise. If you feel like he is not paying you accordingly, several steps can be taken to recover what belongs to you.

The Law

Overtime laws were put in place for a reason. They ensure that workers receive fair compensation for their time and effort on the job. There are, of course, exceptions made for situations where an employer might legally avoid paying overtime, but they are few and far between. Generally speaking, any worker who works more than 40 hours per work during seven days or more than 8 hours in one day must be paid no less than one-and-a-half times their standard pay rate.


These laws are not without their ambiguities, however. For example, one question that can come up is whether employees who work for more than 40 hours in a week may do so across more than just 7 days. The answer to this question will depend on the nature of your job and how it works with other jobs in the company you’re employed by. If you are CEO, your boss probably can’t expect you to put in 60 hours during a single seven-day period. However, if you’re a blackjack dealer at a casino, then maybe that’s understandable because you almost always have overlapping shifts with other dealers and cannot leave until all of them have left.

Unclear Expectations

Even though one may be working overtime, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are owed 1.5 times his regular pay rate. If the job is to perform a certain task and you complete that task successfully but still work more than 40 hours during the period in which you performed the task, then perhaps your boss owes you nothing at all for those extra hours worked. Again, this will depend on what type of job you do and whether those other tasks were part of your original job description and whether or not anyone was aware that they needed to be done before the time came to do them.

Frequency vs Total Hours Worked

Perhaps an associate’s job is to research malware infections in the company’s software, but he works overtime by cleaning up computers every night. This might not be considered “overtime” because his job is to research malware, not clean desks. However, if a person was hired as a cleaner and then began doing extra tasks for which he was not paid overtime, he could make a case that those hours were indeed overtime hours worked.

Administrative Duties

Employees can also voluntarily agree to work beyond their regular working hours without being entitled to any form of compensation. In other words, you CAN work over 40 hours per week without receiving any additional pay IF you have agreed to do this beforehand with your employer. If you’re happy with the arrangement, then this is OK, and you shouldn’t complain. However, suppose there was no agreement. Your boss expects that it will happen occasionally because he or she needs the work to be done as soon as possible without any regard for how much overtime you’re putting in. In that case, it’s time to say something.

Knowing What You’re Entitled To

It is important to note that not all employees are entitled to receive 1.5 times their standard pay rate for each hour worked beyond 40 per week. Several types of employment positions are exempt from such regulations, including people employed in an executive position (who often make more than double what other workers make) and outside salespeople (such as door-to-door magazine sellers). Other exemptions include people who work as independent contractors and some transportation workers.

Taking Action

These distinctions between employees and non-employees can be challenging to discern, so it’s generally a good idea to ask your boss if you aren’t sure about whether or not you are entitled to extra pay for working overtime. Other possible situations in which one might not be compensated include traveling out of town for one day, being on call at home during off-hours (where there is no expectation that the employee will have to perform any duties), attending training sessions where no actual work is performed outside of normal business hours or performing tasks outside of the job description. If you feel that an employer has violated federal wage laws concerning any situation like this, then it might be time to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor.

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