As an employee, it usually goes without saying that if you work more, you want to get paid more for your time. Overtime pay (sometimes shortened to “OT”) is a way to protect employees who work outside of their designated hours, but there are some variations in what qualifies for overtime and how much they should get paid.
If you’re wondering whether or not you qualify for paid overtime, it’s important that you track your hours correctly so that you can ensure you’re receiving the appropriate compensation.
Why Do Some People Work Overtime?
It may seem unusual that some people would choose to work more than they have to, but there are a number of incentives to consider. Some people work overtime because they have more work to do than they can complete in a normal work week. Or, an employee may feel like their position at the company will be on the line if they can’t keep up, increasing pressure to stay longer at work each day. Others who are after a promotion or raise may work longer to prove themselves to their higher-ups.
While some people work overtime by choice, others are required to do so by their employers. They may be pressured by their boss to be available outside of their work hours, or cover another employee when they are out sick. People may be afraid to say “no” because they don’t want to run the risk of losing their job.
Pros and Cons of Working Overtime
Working overtime comes with a mix of pros and cons. It’s important to consider all of these before committing yourself to overtime shifts. Let’s start with the positives: When you work overtime, you can potentially be more productive. Having those extra bit of hours at the office when everyone else goes home, may be just what you need to avoid falling behind with your tasks.
Accomplishing more work may even help you stand out from other employees who put in the minimum time required, putting you in a better position to get that raise or promotion. On top of that, when your additional time is being compensated financially (and fairly), you’ll earn more money.
So, what about the cons of working overtime? Understandably, it all has to do with time. More time spent at work means less quality time with friends and family, and general leisure time. It’s possible you could miss out on major life events by putting in more hours at work. With a work-life balance skewed in favor of work, you also run the risk of suffering burnout, which can negatively affect your mental and physical health.
The Price of Working Overtime
Aside from those pros and cons, there may be an unexpected price that comes along with working overtime. When people work longer, they’re left with fewer spare hours to complete their other errands. This can, in turn, cause in increase in spending on outsourcing tasks, such as paying for grocery delivery, housekeeping, or a virtual assistant to tackle everything.
For instance, many employees with families will have to put their kids in day care or hire a sitter if they work overtime. This not only costs extra money, it can create stress at home. Your spouse may want you to pick up more of the slack around the house, yet, you’re too tired to help once you get home.
How to Determine Your Overtime Pay
Overtime pay is regulated by the U.S. government through the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The amount you get paid depends on what type of employee you are: non-exempt or exempt. Non-exempt employees are entitled to overtime pay.
Exempt employees are exempt from receiving overtime pay from their employers. Who is exempt or non-exempt depends on your salary, your industry, whether or not you work on an hourly basis, etc. It’s best to ask your employer this before you get hired, so there are no surprises.
According to the FLSA, non-exempt employees must be paid a minimum of time and a half (or 1.5 times their regular pay) for any hours worked over 40 hours per work week. For example, if someone gets paid $20 an hour and works 50 hours in a week, they would receive at least $300 in overtime pay ($30 an hour for the extra 10 hours of work that week).
There are a couple of other considerations:
- Under the Department of Labor, there are exceptions to overtime pay under special circumstances for police, firefighters, hospital employees, and nursing home employees.
- If you are in a state that also has its own overtime laws, your overtime pay will be determined based on whichever law results in a higher rate of pay.
Because overtime pay is based on the number of extra hours worked, it’s crucial that you keep track of what hours you’re working. If your job doesn’t use a time sheet system, you should manually keep a log yourself. To do this, use Giga Calculator’s unique time card calculator to input your hours. Include any additional overtime information to find how much you should be getting paid.
Why Your Overtime Matters
Working overtime may be the right decision based on your own specific circumstances. Perhaps you’re trying to pay off a debt or save up for a vacation, and working a few more extra hours would help. That being said, it’s important that working overtime is something you’re willing to do, and if it’s not, and instead at your boss’ request, then you’ll want to make sure you’re compensated accordingly.
Whatever the reason, in most cases, you should be getting compensated appropriately under federal and state laws when you’re working overtime. If you need additional help calculating overtime pay, a time card calculator can do just the trick. Those who need further assistance understanding how overtime law applies to them should speak to a member of HR at their company or a legal adviser.
Cindy is a freelance writer and editor with previous experience in marketing as well as book publishing. Along with her content writing for a diverse portfolio of clients, Cindy’s work has been featured in Time Out, CultureMap, Livability, and more.