Is Mandatory Overtime Legal?
Has your employer ever forced you to work overtime? If you’ve been forced to work mandatory overtime, you likely questioned whether or not it’s legal. Although forcing an employee to work overtime isn’t always ethical, your employer can make you work mandatory overtime. There are ways you can avoid overtime, but the Federal Labor Standards Act (FLSA) allows employers to force an employee to work mandatory overtime.
Working overtime isn’t something that every worker wants to do. You have a life and family outside of work, and working overtime every day can impact that. You shouldn’t have to worry about being fired just because you refuse to work overtime. This article tells you what you need to know about mandatory overtime, and how to avoid it.
How Mandatory Overtime Works
Overtime goes by an employee’s work week, not by day. According to the FLSA, if you surpass 40 hours within your work week, you’ll receive overtime pay for all additional hours. However, there is no federal law that permits permits you overtime for working more than 8 hours in a day.
The only states that do require overtime pay after 8 hours are Alaska, California, and Nevada. Other states with additional overtime laws include:
- Colorado, where overtime pay is required after working over 12 hours in a day.
- California, where double overtime pay is required after working over 12 hours in a day.
- Kentucky, where overtime pay is required after working 7 consecutive days in a work week.
For more information on how overtime pay works, read our article below.
Currently, there is no federal law that prohibits the amount of overtime workers over 16 can work. The FLSA also allows employers to make overtime mandatory as long as they pay the correct overtime. In section 29 U.S.C. § 201 of the FLSA, employers can fire employees who refuse to work mandatory overtime.
How To Avoid Mandatory Overtime
There are a few instances where firing an employee for refusing to work overtime is illegal. First, check your state’s working regulations to see if your mandatory overtime is violating your state’s labor laws. For example, California has overtime restrictions for employees who already worked more than 72 hours in the previous work week.
Next, check your employee contract to see what your company policies are on overtime. If your employer is violating a company policy on overtime, try to reason with them.
If your employer is unreasonable, you can always make a report to your HR department or union board. You can always talk with a lawyer if you don’t have anyone else to talk about your employer’s transgressions.
Other instances that make mandatory overtime illegal include:
- The overtime breaches a contract.
- Working overtime creates a health or safety risk.
- The employer doesn’t pay overtime in accordance with federal or state laws.
- The employer or company does not operate in interstate commerce.
- The employee exempt status or needs a temporary work modification.
- The employee cannot work overtime due to a family emergency.
Below, we outline some more federal laws that can help you avoid mandatory overtime.
The Family And Medical Leave Act
The FMLA allows employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off for medical reasons. This can include helping a family member with a serious health condition or having a baby. If you have to refuse mandatory overtime because you need medical leave, read our article below.
Also Read: Understanding How Sick Leave Works
The Americans With Disabilities Act
If you’re someone with a diagnosed disability, you can negotiate safer terms with your employer. Under the Americans With Disabilities Act, employers should make reasonable adjustments for disabled employees.
For example, let’s say your boss wants you to work 10 hours a day, but you have some physical limitations. Find a reasonable adjustment with your employer, such as sitting for the last couple hours of your shift. If your employer refuses to acknowledge your disability’s needs, call My Case Helper to find more options.
Many pregnant workers don’t know that they can ask for temporary adjustments during their pregnancy. This also includes asking for reduced mandatory overtime hours. For more info on what reasonable adjustments pregnant workers can ask for, check out our article below.
Refusing To Work Overtime
Forcing employees to work overtime is bad for morale and often affects work quality. Try to discuss better options or alternative solutions if you don’t want to work mandatory overtime.
Employment lawyers see an increasing number of lawsuits against employers forcing mandatory overtime. Employers who do force their employees to work mandatory overtime instead of hiring more workers should face repercussions. Although employers can force employees to work overtime, employers should be mindful of their employees’ health and safety.
If your employer has unethically forced you to work overtime, call My Case Helper. We can find a lawyer in your state to answer all your questions and tell you what you’re entitled to.