QUESTION

When is an employee entitled to overtime pay?

SHORT ANSWER
Unless an employee is exempt by the Fair Labor Standards Act, they must be paid overtime. There are many categories of exempt employees.
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Most employees who are non-exempt by any special provision of the FLSA are entitled to overtime pay at a rate of no less than one and one-half times the regular rate of pay for all hours worked over 40 hours in one work week.  A “work week” is a fixed and regularly recurring period of 168 hours—7 consecutive 24-hour periods.  Averaging of hours over two or more weeks is not permitted.

There are many categories of exempt employees, including but not limited to exemptions for many executive, administrative, professional, computer and outside-sales employees.  However, to be exempt these employees’ positions must meet certain requirements with respect to minimum salary (currently $455 per week, though a recent rule proposal may raise this to a minimum of $679 per week), but also with respect to the nature of the position and how much independent authority and judgment is required in the position. There are some other overtime exemptions as well, including one for some highly compensated employees who make at least $100,000 annually.