If you’re a salaried employee in the U.S., both you and your employer are subject to the rule of the Fair Labor Standards Act regarding how hours worked are paid. However, the rules change depending on whether or not you meet certain exemptions to the act, and can be further affected by state laws, depending on where you live.
Whether or not a salaried employee has any limits placed on the number of hours she can work depends on whether she’s considered exempt or non-exempt with regard to the Fair Labor Standards Act. Some commissioned sales employees, supervisors and executives that meet certain requirements are among the types of professionals who are exempt from overtime and other federal rules regarding hours worked. For a full list of detailed exemption circumstances, see the Department of Labor’s Exemptions webpage (see Resources).
The Fair Labor Standards Act
Under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, all employees -- salaried or otherwise -- who are considered non-exempt from this act must be paid overtime if they work more than 40 hours a week. Overtime rate of pay is set at 1.5 times your normal rate of pay as of 2011. The FLSA does not set a limit on the number of hours you can work as a salaried employee, unless you’re under the age of 18. If you’re 16 or 17, you can work at a job considered to be non-hazardous for an unlimited amount of hours, as long as your employer pays you. If you’re 14 or 15 years old, you can work, but the FLSA places several restrictions on the number of hours and times you’re allowed to work. For detailed information, consult the FLSA Hours Restrictions webpage (see Resources).
In addition to federal statutes regarding hour limits and salaried employees, your state may have additional labor laws in place that may affect you and your business. For example, as of 2011, North Carolina’s labor laws regarding hour limits are the same as those outlined by the FLSA. California’s laws go into greater detail, decrying the policy of some employers to give comp time in lieu of overtime pay. California’s reasoning is that a non-exempt person who receives a day off in exchange for working eight hours of overtime should really be paid for 12 hours, not eight -- so receipt of a single day off cheats that worker of four hours.
If you’re unsure whether you’re an exempt salaried employee or a non-exempt salaried employee, there are a few places you can check to find this information. Your pay stub may have the information printed directly on it. If you still have a copy of your job description, it may also list whether the position is exempt or non-exempt. If you can’t find this information in either place, check with the human resources department of your company to find the status of your position.
- U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division; Letter Regarding Exemption; Barbara Relerford; June 1, 2006
- North Carolina Department of Labor: Hours Worked and Mandatory Overtime
- California Department of Industrial Relations: Overtime
- Got Overtime? Law Offices of Michael Tracy: Facts About California Overtime