The United States Department of Labor — Wage and Hour Division enforces pay issues, including minimum wage laws and overtime rules. The division protects workers who are in certain temporary worker programs, but there are instances in which temporary employees may not get overtime after working 40 hours in one week. Government overtime rules are applicable to permanent and temporary workers alike; however, farm workers, who work piecemeal and are often temporary workers, aren't covered.
The Fair Labor Standards Act represents the Department of Labor’s policy on federal overtime provisions. Employees covered by the act must receive overtime pay when they work more than 40 hours in a workweek. That pay must not be less than 1 1/2 times their base pay. For example, if a covered worker makes $8 per hour and works 45 hours in one week, then she's entitled to receive $12 per hour for the five hours above 40 hours. Her gross salary for the week would be $320 for the first 40 hours and $60 for the last five hours, for a total of $380 for that week.
An employee’s workweek doesn't have to coincide with the calendar. For example, the workweek could begin on a Wednesday and end on a Tuesday, or start on a Sunday and end on Saturday. The Department of Labor looks at a “fixed and regularly recurring period of 168 hours” to determine any company’s workweek. Companies aren't permitted to average an employee’s hours over a two-week period even if such employees are paid biweekly.
Certain workers aren't covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act. These workers include executive, administrative, professional and computer employees who are paid a salary of at least $455 per week. This same exemption is applied to highly compensated employees, which usually includes people earning $100,000 or more per year. A person engaged in outside sales may be excluded as well, regardless of how much he earns in a week. The federal government makes no distinction here between permanent and temporary workers.
Farm workers are usually temporary and not eligible for overtime pay. Agricultural employers may be exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act under certain circumstances. Farm workers who are immediate family members of their employer aren't covered by the act and aren't eligible for overtime pay; workers who chiefly work on the range with livestock are also not covered. Piece-rate harvesters in traditionally piece-rated occupations who worked in agriculture less than 13 weeks during the preceding calendar year aren't covered. Further, nonlocal minors, defined as workers age 16 or under, who work as hand harvesters, are exempt. Such workers are paid on a piece-rate basis in traditionally piece-rated occupations, employed on the same farm as their parent, and are paid the same piece rate as those over 16 who also aren't covered.
- U.S. Department of Labor: Wage and Hour Division
- U.S. Department of Labor: Compliance Assistance — Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
- U.S. Department of Labor: Fact Sheet #17A — Exemption for Executive, Administrative, Professional, Computer & Outside Sales Employees Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
- U.S. Department of Labor: Fact Sheet #12 — Agricultural Employers Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
Matt Keegan has worked as an editor since 1992. He has edited technical manuals, newsletters and articles for several aviation and automotive companies and is currently the editor and publisher of "Auto Trends Magazine." Matt earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Ramapo College of New Jersey.