What You Need to Know About Overtime Labor Laws

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Overtime labor laws in New York and throughout the nation are governed by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which was enacted in 1938 and continues to ensure a number of different requirements – including minimum wage and overtime pay. You can learn more about the FLSA at http://www.dol.gov/whd/flsa/.

New York State recently raised its minimum wage to $9 an hour (effective 1/1/16), which is significantly higher than the current federal hourly minimum wage rate of $7.25. Governor Andrew Cuomo, an advocate of increasing the nationwide minimum wage rate to $15 an hour, last month announced that New York State workers would begin earning this rate over the next five years.

More information on New York’s labor laws can be found at http://www.labor.ny.gov/workerprotection/laborstandards/workprot/minwage.shtm

About Overtime

Generally, the FLSA requires employers to pay overtime to employees who work more than 40 hours in a given workweek, at a rate of 1 ½ times their regular pay rate.

  • There are some exceptions. Most common are “white collar” exemptions for executive, administrative and professional, IT and outside sales employees.
  • You cannot waive FLSA rights. Employers frequently assume that as long as their employees agree to certain pay arrangements, there is no legal violation. This is not the case. For example, employees may agree to work arrangements where they receive additional pay, benefits and/or time off in exchange for giving up overtime pay. But even if a written contract is signed, employers have no defense to a finding of an FLSA violation in such a case. Federal law – not you and not your workers – defines your FLSA obligations.
  • The Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) enforces federal overtime laws. The WHD usually initiates an investigation of an employer’s overtime practices in response to an employee’s complaint. Isolated incidents may only result in a phone interview or a small-scale investigation, but multiple violations or complex cases may merit a full assessment involving employee interviews and subpoenas of company records. Civil penalties of up to $1,000 per violation for repeated or willful FLSA violations can occur.

Documentation is Mandatory

Employers are required to maintain careful documentation related to their employees’ wages, hours and other employment conditions and practices. The FLSA requires no particular method for maintaining records, but mandates that they contain certain information about hours worked and wages earned.

The CPS Recruitment team can provide additional tools, resources and expertise to keep you current on state and federal employment laws and developments. Contact us today so we can tell you more about our staffing and workforce development services.

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