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Overtime: Federal

Overtime requirements by state

Author: Meryl Gutterman, Nukk, Freeman & Cerra, PC


  • 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.
  • 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 midnight on Sunday night. See Defining the Workweek.
  • There are, however, exceptions to this general rule that apply to some medical care providers, police officers, firefighters, EMS workers and unionized employees. See Alternative Work Periods.
  • 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.