Failure to pay overtime violations come in a number of varieties and result in workers being deprived of hundreds of millions of dollars in earnings each year. While some pursue claims under the federal and/or Connecticut overtime laws by hiring a private wage and hour lawyer, most never even realize that they have been cheated out of proper pay for all of their work hours. Understanding overtime is not all that difficult and you really only need to be aware enough to spot situations that don’t seem right. Once you have raised the question, an answer is usually readily available.
Under both the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Connecticut overtime laws employers must pay non-exempt workers overtime at the rate of 1.5 times their regular rate of pay for hours worked in excess of 40 hours in a workweek. In certain respects, the overtime rules under the Connecticut overtime laws can be even stricter than federal law, and even more favorable to workers. For instance, Connecticut state labor law provides for a higher minimum wage than does federal law and does not treat all exemptions in the same way (eg. does not recognize an exemption for computer professionals at all).
Employees may not legally waive their right to overtime, nor can an employer enforce a policy that says unauthorized overtime will not be paid. While you must still be paid for working unauthorized overtime, this does not mean that you cannot be disciplined for violation of the policy that prohibits unauthorized overtime work.
A worker’s overtime pay rate is based upon their “regular rate of pay”, which is not just his/her standard hourly rate – there is more to it. The regular rate of pay essentially includes all forms of compensation, including base hourly wage, nondiscretionary bonuses, commissions, on-call pay, shift differentials, reasonable cost of meals, lodging and cash benefit payments from Section 125 Cafeteria Plans.
A very common mistake made by employers is to merely multiplying the employee’s base hourly wage by 1.5 to get the overtime rate, failing to account for any bonus, commission or other compensation items. The following is an example of the correct calculation for an employee who is paid hourly plus a bonus:
- James is paid $15 per hour, worked 45 hours during the workweek, and earned a $500 bonus.
- Total pay for the week: ($15 x 45 hours) + $500 bonus = $1,175
- Regular rate of pay for the week: $1,175 ÷ 45 hours = $26.11
- Additional 1/2 time for Overtime premium: $26.11 x 0.5 x 5 overtime hours = $65.28
- Total Weekly Pay Should be: $1,175 + $65.28 = $1,240.28