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Overtime: Federal

Overtime requirements by state

Author: Meryl Gutterman, Nukk-Freeman & Cerra, P.C.


  • The Fair Labor Standards Act requires employers to pay nonexempt employees overtime when they work more than a certain number of hours, usually 40 in a week. See Basic Principles of Overtime.
  • Employees must be paid for overtime hours at one and one-half times their regular rate of pay. The regular rate includes not just any hourly wages, but also other forms of compensation such as commissions or nondiscretionary bonuses. See The Regular Rate.
  • Overtime usually is based on a workweek, a fixed and regularly recurring period of 168 hours, or seven consecutive 24-hour periods, such as 12:01 a.m. on Monday morning through 12:00 midnight on Sunday night. See Defining the Workweek.
  • Most often, calculating the amount of overtime to which an employee is entitled is as simple as multiplying the employee's regular rate of pay by one and one-half for each hour of overtime. However, there are many situations that are more complicated. See Computing Overtime.
  • When two or more employers jointly employ an employee, the hours worked by the employee for all of the joint employers during the workweek are lumped together and considered as one employment when calculating whether overtime pay is due. See Joint Employment.
  • If a salaried employee's hours vary from week to week, an employer can use an alternative (and usually cost-saving) method for calculating overtime called the fluctuating workweek. See The Fluctuating Workweek.
  • Many situations, such as a change in the beginning of the workweek or a retroactive pay increase, require special attention. See Special Situations.