Can Your Boss Make You Work Overtime?

Is it legal for an employer to require more than 40 hours of work from an employee?

Adam Freedman
March 1, 2013

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Note that the federal overtime requirement is a weekly requirement.  Under the FSLA you’re not entitled to overtime for working a long day – say, more than 8 hours in a single day.  Although some states do mandate daily overtime rates.  In Colorado, mandatory overtime kicks in after a 12-hour day.  In relatively laid-back California, overtime starts after 8 hours.

Some Workers are Exempt From the FSLA

[[AdMiddle]Some workers are exempt from the FSLA’s overtime pay requirements.  Obviously, this includes employees of companies that are not engaged in interstate commerce.  But the FSLA also excludes certain types of jobs, including:

  • Railroad and air carrier employees

  • Farm workers

  • Commissioned salespeople

  • Taxi drivers

  • Movie theater employees

In some cases, workers exempted from federal law may be picked up by state overtime laws.  There are too many of these to summarize here, but I will mention one of them as an example: In Maryland, employees of bowling alleys are entitled to time-and-a-half when they work more than 48 hours in a week.

Additional Restrictions Apply to Child Labor

There is one area where the FSLA does impose maximum work hours, and that is with school-aged minors.  Under the law, children between the ages of 14 and 16 may work no more than 3 hours on a school day and no more than 18 hours in a school week.  In a non-school week, they may work no more than 8 hours per day and 40 hours per week.  Federal law also imposes restrictions on when the work day may begin for minors.   In addition, many states have restrictions on child labor that go beyond federal law. 

So Heather, if you’re between the ages of 14 and 16, you might be able to get out of that 50-hour work week.  But if not, then it’s back to work, and yet another reason to lament the passing of youth!

Thank you for reading Legal Lad’s Quick and Dirty Tips for a More Lawful Life. Let me just conclude with a word about math, if you can believe it.  Algebra, to be precise.  Algebra can be tricky for a lot of people – but it doesn’t have to be. Check your confusion at the door and let Math Dude, Jason Marshall help you out in his new book, The Math Dude’s Quick and Dirty Guide to Algebra. Through brain teasers, “math-libs,” and quizzes – you’ll learn a ton of quick and dirty tricks that will have the answers sticking for years (and tests) to come. It’s available for download on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and iTunes.
You can send questions and comments to legal@quickanddirtytips.com. Please note that doing so will not create an attorney-client relationship and will be used for the purposes of this article only.

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