Chances are you are being paid twice a month (semi-monthly) instead of every two weeks (bi-weekly).

Per the labor laws, overtime is calculated based on a work week – not the pay period. Covered, non-exempt employees are entitled to overtime pay for all hours worked over 40 during a work week. A work week is a 7 day period established by your employer. It can start on any day of the week. For example, your employer’s work week may run from Monday through Sunday or it may run from Wednesday through the following Tuesday. In order to determine your overtime hours, you must know when your employer’s work week starts.

Your work schedule does not determine the work week. For example, assume your employer’s work week runs from Monday through Sunday and you work from Thursday through the following Tuesday. To determine your weekly overtime hours, you would total the hours worked from Thursday through Sunday, when the work week ends. If the hours worked from Thursday through Sunday total more than 40, you will be entitled to overtime for that week. On Monday, a new work week starts so the hours you work on Monday and Tuesday count towards the new week’s total hours.

If you are paid twice a month, your pay period may span 3 different workweeks. If the pay period ends before the workweek ends, the hours worked during that workweek would be considered regular time – assuming you do not work more than 40 hours during those few days.  Because a semi-monthly pay period will have 15 or 16 days, your regular time for the pay period could exceed 80 hours. For example, if you work 40 hours the first work week, 40 hours the second work week, and 8 hours for one day of the third work, your total hours for the pay period will be 88 hours but since you have not worked more than 40 hours in a work week, under the labor laws, overtime pay is not due.

In short, in order to determine the overtime hours you are due in a given pay period, you must add up the overtime hours for each work week that ends during the pay period.  See this page for a video that further explains this issue. 

If you think your employer is interpreting the labor laws on overtime incorrectly and would like us to evaluate your situation, please complete our online intake form. Our evaluation is free and confidential.