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What every employee should know about mandatory overtime

Working overtime can be bittersweet. On one hand, the extra money can be nice, but on the other hand, you probably want to go home and do other things with your time. Sometimes you do not have a choice, though, and your employer tells you that you have to work over 40 hours that week. You may be wondering about the legality of this situation, and rightfully so. There are a few things you should know.

The following are three important considerations to remember when your employer is telling you that you have to work overtime. If you suspect that your employer is acting in violation of state or federal employment laws, you should document the situation and seek recourse. 

It is typically legal

Interestingly, there is no legal limit to the number of hours that an employer can require an employee to work. This can leave room for employers to abuse the lack of legal parameters and require employees to work an unreasonable number of hours. It also means that employers are typically within their rights to require that employees work overtime hours.

You may get higher wages

While there is no law limiting the number of hours a person may work, there are laws indicating that hours in excess of 40 per week should be paid additional wages. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, work hours that exceed 40 weekly are subject to time-and-a-half pay. This can make overtime quite lucrative for employees, but employers do not always pay overtime fairly.

Exempt workers may not

One of the most common workarounds that employers use is requiring exempt employees to work overtime hours. The Fair Labor Standards Act stipulates that only non-exempt employees are entitled to the aforementioned time and a half. Exempt employees, or workers who receive salaried wages, are often asked to work overtime without any additional compensation.