Career Testing
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Career Testing
Ask an Expert SALARIES / DEC. 23, 2016
version 6, draft 6

If I am working overtime I expect to get paid. How can I tell my boss?

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Dilemma:

I have been working overtime recently in preparation for the holidays. When I asked about compensation regarding the extra time I have worked in the past few weeks though my supervisor said he'd look into it and never got back to me. When I asked him again, he brought into question my performance, which made me feel like I was being threatened. At the same time I do not see how my overtime has anything to do with my performance; I mean I did work those hours? What do you think?

Kyriaki says:

Having to address money issues with your boss is never fun, but sometimes you just have to do it. Discussing monthly salaries or even worse, asking for a raise are some of the things that most workers struggle with, so you need to be careful. The fact that you worked overtime probably has nothing to do with your performance, but it looks like your boss isn’t willing to pay you for those extra hours. Technically, your employer doesn’t have to pay you for overtime unless your contract specifically says so or you do or don’t meet specific requirements e.g. being an exempt (not legally required to be paid overtime) or non-exempt (must be paid overtime) employee.

According to the US Department of Labor and Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), unless exempt, employees who are covered by the Act must receive overtime pay for any hours worked over 40 in a workweek at a rate not less than time and one-half their regular rates of pay. More specifically, if you earn less than $47,476 annually, your employer will be legally required to pay you overtime.

This is how it works:

Whether you are exempt or not depends on how the government classifies the type of work you do, how much you earn and your primary duties. You are exempt if:

  • You are a learned professional e.g. lawyer, doctor, dentist, registered nurse, accountant, teacher, engineer, scientist etc.
  • You are a creative professional e.g. actor, artist, musician, writer, journalist etc.
  • You are managing a business or you are part of the business and manage at least two people.
  • You are a skilled worker in the computer field e.g. computer systems analyst, computer programmer, software engineer etc.
  • You work in sales and away from your employer’s place of business.

If I were you, the first thing I would do is check my employment contract to make sure that I am entitled to overtime pay. This should have all of the details about overtime pay rates and explain how these can be calculated.

Whether your boss had any problem with your performance is irrelevant to overtime pay, because working overtime is working overtime and you can’t change the fact that it happened. As such I suggest that you make the effort to count the extra hours you have worked overtime noting down the time(s) and date(s). Even though you may not want to do it, I would suggest getting to know your rights and try talking to your boss. If it comes to being threatened for your job, perhaps you deserve a better employer. Let us know how it goes!

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