Fact Checked

What are the Different Types of Overtime Laws?

Felicia Dye
Felicia Dye

There can be a great deal of variation in the types of overtime laws that are found in different jurisdictions. First, this type of legislation may define overtime and state that it is a violation for employers not to adhere to the regulations when labor situations fit a certain definition. Second, these laws generally outline those who are and are not eligible for such benefits. Third, overtime laws often outline the rates at which overtime should be paid and the procedure to follow if it is not paid.

Overtime laws are generally found under the umbrella of a larger area of jurisprudence, such as labor or employment law. The goal of overtime laws tends to be to regulate what will happen if individuals work more than a certain number of hours. Although in most instances these laws pertain to full-time employees, because legislation does vary, there may be instances where part-time employee interests are also addressed.

Overtime laws are meant to ensure employees are fairly compensated for extra work.
Overtime laws are meant to ensure employees are fairly compensated for extra work.

One of the most important types of overtime laws are those that recognize that special circumstances should exist if a person works more than a certain number of hours in a given period. Some laws may recognize that overtime exists when a person engages in more than a certain number of hours of work per day. Others may base their calculations on hours worked in a week.

It should be noted that, in many cases, the law makes exceptions about paying individuals elevated rates for overtime work. There are certain industries or positions that may not be recognized as eligible for overtime benefits due to the nature of the work involved. For example, fishermen are often on boats for extended periods and are therefore excluded from benefits. Salaried workers may also be ineligible for overtime compensation.

Some of these laws address other reasons that may or may not impact whether increased rates are paid for overtime. In many jurisdictions, there is language that expressly prohibits employers from denying payment of overtime earned as a disciplinary measure. Some jurisdictions have legislation in place that requires payment of overtime rates even if the additional hours are worked without the employer making the request.

Another important category of overtime laws determines the rate at which individuals must be paid. For example, in the U.S., it is common for individuals to receive one and one-half times their normal pay rates. This means that if a person’s hourly wage is $10 US Dollars (USD), his overtime rate will be $15. Procedures that should be used to report or to rectify violations of the law may also be part of overtime legislation. Such sections of the law may limit recoverable damages or impose mandatory minimum fines on employers who act contrarily.

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Discussion Comments


@Laotionne - I was once fired from a job because I didn't report to work on a Saturday. At that time, I was working 12 hour shifts during the week, and then half of a day on Saturdays. I had never missed a day in a year of working at that factory, and I always clocked in on time no matter how much overtime I was putting in. Then I missed one Saturday because I couldn't get a babysitter.

The next Monday when I showed up for work, I was called into the office. The plant manager told me to take a seat, and he then talked for about 30 minutes and ended by telling me I could go home. I was fired. There was nothing I could do about it. I could have filed for wrongful termination, but this would have been a waste of time.


Running a small business requires that I be flexible in order to meet my customers' needs. There are times when there is not a great deal of work, and then there are times when we have more work than we can handle without working overtime hours. For this reason, I need my employees to be flexible too.

There is no law in my state that says that I cannot require my employees to work overtime. I have no contract or agreement of any kind with my workers that would prevent me from requiring them to work overtime.

I am aware that nobody wants to work all of the time, so I try not to make unbearable demands when it comes to asking my employees to work overtime, but this is something I have to do to make a profit on many of the contracts I take. I always make sure applicants know that overtime will be required before I hire them. By giving them advanced notice, I limit the number of complaints I get down the line.


Can an employer require you to work overtime? At my job, we are working practically every Saturday now, and this is getting old in a hurry. Isn't there a labor law that says a worker only has to work 40 hours a week in the United States?

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    • Overtime laws are meant to ensure employees are fairly compensated for extra work.
      By: WavebreakmediaMicro
      Overtime laws are meant to ensure employees are fairly compensated for extra work.