Unfair Overtime Practices That Are Frustrating Your Employees


Life is all about moderation, and a work-life balance is no exception. Imagine setting up exciting plans after a long day of work just to have them canceled because of overtime. Yeah, it can be demoralizing and frustrating for your employees to experience this.

But, overtime isn’t always avoidable during busy months or seasons. The next best thing is to conduct overtime practices lawfully and with your employees in mind. Below are 4 unfair overtime practices that are frustrating your employees right now.

Refusing to Pay Unauthorized Overtime

If an employee starts billing overtime, but it wasn’t authorized, do you need to pay it? From a legal standpoint, employers must pay overtime to employees. Employers may discipline their employees for unauthorized overtime, but the payment itself can not be withheld. This is noted under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Of course, this can sometimes be unfair to business owners.

To prevent unauthorized overtime from happening, there are two important policies to set up around the office. First, you will want to have a clear policy that requires employees to obtain permission before they start working overtime. Second, routinely check employee work hours to make sure the numbers are correct.

Paying Overtime As a Flat Sum

Employers must always pay their non-exempt employees on a per-hour basis. It might be tempting to pay employees overtime at a flat sum (e.g. paying $300 for all overtime worked) because it makes calculations easier. Still, it is unlawful and employees may feel more at risk when it comes to overtime with this policy.

Docking Overtime Pay

In the event that deductions need to be made (e.g. uniform, damages, etc.), they must not cut into overtime pay. Under the FLSA, deductions can be made on regular pay provided that the pay remains above the state or federal minimum wage.

Neglecting Non-Productive Hours When Calculating Overtime

As most of you already know, the FLSA considers anything above 40 hours a week as overtime. Still, less known, is the fact that hours worked do not only include the “productive” hours spent working. When calculating if hours are overtime or not, make sure to account for nonproductive time such as rest breaks, traveling time, and training sessions.

However, note that an unpaid lunch break that is over 20 minutes long is exempt from the overtime calculation. If you’d like to read more about overtime pay regulations, we recommend visiting the Department of Labor’s Fair Labor Standards Act page.