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The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) has specific guidelines for calculating overtime hours and pay. Most employees know that they are entitled to “time and a half” for overtime hours, but many do not know the specific details of the law and how it works. Employers find creative and convincing ways of working around these laws, cheating employees out of the money they have earned.

Overtime Hours

Overtime is any time worked over 40 hours in one workweek. A workweek is seven consecutive days. Your employer can choose any day of the week as the beginning of the work week, but it cannot fluctuate from week to week. Overtime is calculated on a weekly basis, not necessarily by the pay period. If your pay period is longer than one week, your employer cannot average your hours to avoid paying overtime.

For instance, if your pay period is two weeks and you work 45 hours one week, but only 10 hours the second week, you are still entitled to overtime pay for five hours, even though the total amount of hours for the two week period was less than 80.

Hourly Rate

The hourly rate is the easiest to calculate. Your employer must pay you one and a half times your normal hourly rate for every hour you work over 40 hours in one workweek.

If your normal rate is $10.00 per hour, your employer must pay you $10.00 an hour for the first 40 hours and $15.00 an hour for every hour after that. So, if you work 45 hours in one week, you should receive $475.00 – $400 for the first 40 hours plus $75 for the five hours of overtime.


Some salaried employees are exempt from overtime pay, but many are not. To calculate overtime pay, if you are a salaried employee, you must determine your “regular rate.”

Your regular rate is based on one week’s pay. If your salary is not paid on a weekly basis, you must first determine your weekly pay. If you receive a monthly salary, you would multiply that by 12 to get your yearly salary, and then divide that by 52 to get your weekly salary.

To determine your regular rate, divide the amount of your weekly salary by the number of hours worked during the week for which you are calculating your overtime pay. For instance, if your weekly salary is $500 and you worked 50 hours in one workweek, you would divide 500 by 50, giving you a regular rate of $10 per hour. You use this regular rate to calculate your overtime pay just as you would with an hourly rate. Your employer would owe you $10 per hour for the first 40 hours and $15 per hour for the 10 hours of overtime, for a total of $550.

Piece Rate

Overtime pay for piece work can be calculated in two ways. Your employer can pay you one and a half times the piece rate for each piece completed during overtime hours, or you can use the “regular rate” calculation to determine overtime pay by the hour.

Your regular rate for piece work is determined in much the same way as it is for salary pay. First, determine how much you are owed for the pieces for the week at your per piece rate, then divide that by the number of hours you worked. So, if the number of pieces completed entitles you to $400 for the week, but you worked 50 hours, you would divide 400 by 50, giving you a regular rate of $8.00 per hour. Your employer would owe you $400 for the pieces plus $4.00 an hour for the 10 overtime hours, for a total of $440.

Understanding the Calculations

Although it may sound complicated, all of the calculation above achieves the same aim – determining what one and a half times your hourly rate for the week is so that you can receive that amount for the overtime that you have worked. If in making these calculations you discover that your regular rate is less than minimum wage, your employer is in violation of minimum wage laws.

The attorneys at Jacoby & Meyers can help you receive the compensation you deserve if your employer owes you money for unpaid overtime. We have handled many wage and hour claims, and we will fight aggressively to protect your rights.

Please contact our wage and hour lawyers today to schedule your free initial consultation. Jacoby & Meyers has offices throughout the U.S.