Overtime: Exempt vs. Non-Exempt and the 40 Hour Work-Week
“It’s our busy season at work and my boss has been asking me to work late. But she makes me punch out right at 5pm, because I’m not ‘eligible’ for overtime.”
Both the Massachusetts Overtime laws and the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) require that employers must pay overtime to those individuals who are not “exempt” from the overtime requirements. But employers often bend the rules to save money by improperly classifying certain jobs as exempt from the overtime rules and regulations.
Typically, there are three types of employees who are exempt from overtime pay:
• bona fide executives,
• administrative personnel,
There are many other exemptions that relate to the employee’s actual job duties or to the nature of the employer’s business. If you are exempt from overtime, the employer can, by law, require you to work more than 40 hours per week. There is no law in Massachusetts (and no Federal law) limiting the number of work hours per week, except for those applicable to minors and certain regulated industries.
However, if you are a non-exempt employee, you may not work more than 40 hours in a week without receiving overtime pay. Overtime pay is defined as the hourly work an employee does after the 40 hour limit, and the pay should equal 1.5 times the amount the employee is ordinarily paid for one hour. If the employee is not either not paid or not paid the correct amount for overtime work, then they may have grounds to seek compensation for their work.
Massachusetts law also has special rules requiring extra pay on Sunday in certain circumstances – the Blue Laws.
Salary vs. Hourly Pay Mistakes
“My company pays us on a salary basis. I work pretty long hours, and I get the feeling they’re paying us a salary to avoid paying the extra hours we work.”
With few exceptions, exempt employees must be paid on a salaried basis in order for the employer to qualify for the exemption. Everyone else should be paid on an hourly basis.
However, it is possible that you are incorrectly paid on a salary basis instead of an hourly basis. Non-exempt employees improperly paid on a “salary” basis are considered hourly employees whose regular hourly rate is determined by dividing the salary by either 40 or the total number of hours worked during the week.
If you feel you have been wrongly classified as an exempt employee or that you’re otherwise due overtime contact us today.
This information is not a do-it-yourself guide to resolving employment disputes or handling employment litigation. While some may find this useful for understanding the basic issues and their legal context, it is NOT a substitute for experienced legal counsel and does not provide legal advice. Please contact the team at Gordon Law Group to discuss your specific case.