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Can an employer deny you overtime wages because of a policy?

On Behalf of | Sep 20, 2022 | Employment Law |

Workers and employers often have very different perspectives on overtime. Specifically, businesses would often prefer to avoid paying 150% of someone’s typical hourly wage, while most hourly workers are often excited about the prospect of that little increase in their income.

Since workers have an incentive to get as much pay as possible and companies want to keep payroll as low as possible, there is tension between those conflicting interests. Federal law helps protect the right of workers by ensuring they should receive overtime pay in certain circumstances.

If you have put in more than 40 hours in a given workweek, then you should receive overtime pay for every additional hour after meeting that 40-hour threshold. Can your employer’s policy prevent you from getting those wages?

Companies do not have more authority than the government

Companies can enact any policy they want, but they cannot give those policies more weight than federal employment laws. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)  is a long-standing federal that establishes the right of workers to receive overtime wages. Companies must comply with this law or risk facing wage points and enforcement actions by regulatory agents.

Your employer can establish a policy against overtime, but they cannot use it to justify reducing your compensation. Instead, a no-overtime policy should influence how the company schedules its workers. They should prevent workers from reaching that 40-hour mark by carefully monitoring schedules and requiring that workers leave and arrive right on time.

Once you put in the work, regardless of company policy, you should receive the pay for that time. Additionally, you should not face any sort of job consequences for working as scheduled or as required by your immediate supervisor.

What if the company won’t pay you?

Employers will sometimes claim that they never approved the overtime and so they simply won’t pay for those extra hours of your work. If you inform your employer that you have worked more hours than they have appropriately compensated you for and they do not remedy the situation, you may need to bring a wage claim in civil court.

Holding your employer accountable for unpaid overtime can compensate you for your time worked and prompt them to improve their compliance with the law.