Overtime: Getting it Right

woman about to work overtime

Most employers want to pay their employees properly. But we find that many employers still do not understand the rules on hourly pay and overtime. Worse, they rely heavily on payroll companies and bookkeepers…who are not getting it right, either.

Hint: It’s Not Always Time and a Half.

So with that in mind, did you know…?

If you pay an outcome-based bonus to an employee, and that employee works overtime during the bonus period, the bonus increases the overtime rate of pay (wage) you owe the employee.

My guess is that at least a few of you are now running off to check the legitimacy of that information. But trust me, it’s true.

Which of course leads to this next question: “You mean I have to go back and pay more money to that employee who worked 4 hours of overtime in week 2 of last month?”

The answer, according the government, is a resounding yes!

But…isn’t ‘overtime’ just time and a half?

Now, riddle me this: Overtime means “1.5 x the hourly rate,” right?

If you answered yes, then no HR cookie for you!

Overtime is actually 1.5 times an employee’s regular rate of pay, for hours worked in excess of 40 hours in a workweek.

Ok, so what’s the ‘regular rate of pay’? And how does it differ from hourly?

Short answer: Hourly means just that. But the regular rate includes the hourly rate PLUS all other forms of compensation added up, then divided by the number of hours actually worked.

I’ve included the equation below to determine an employee’s regular rate of pay:

Step 1: Total weekly pay = Base hourly wages + additional compensation

Step 2: Regular rate of pay = Total weekly pay ÷ hours worked

Never heard that the regular rate of pay may not be the same as hourly rate? Don’t feel bad. Nine out of 10 business owners and managers are also not aware of the difference. California employers: depending on the type of bonus, the math may be different for you. The state changed their rules on this in 2018. If you don’t recall making any adjustments for that, we encourage you to contact CEDR prior to payroll coming due.  

When regular and hourly rates of pay are the same:

Let’s look at an example. Say an employee works for McDonald’s and is paid $10/hour. There are no bonuses or commissions paid to this employee. Therefore, his regular and hourly rates of pay are always the same. There is no extra math. All time worked that exceeds 40 hours in a week is 1.5 x $10/hour.

Now here’s a typical misunderstanding:

“I pay my hygienist a commission on what she produces, and therefore I don’t have to worry about overtime or tracking hours.”

If this employee works overtime, this presents two wage violations you may be falling victim to: failure to track the hours of an hourly employee, and failure to accurately calculate and pay the overtime due to a commissioned employee. Both are big no-no’s!

So are you calculating overtime correctly, and in compliance with state and federal laws?

If you’re not absolutely sure that your policies are helping protect your practice from wage and hour lawsuits and penalties in every way possible, CEDR can help. Call us at 866-414-6056, or shoot us an email at info@cedrsolutions.com for a quick, FREE quote.

Friendly Disclaimer: This article is general education and guidance and is not a substitution for legal advice. Employment issues are complicated and often require specific expert or legal guidance based on the circumstances.

Mar 18, 2015

Friendly Disclaimer: This information is general in nature and is not intended to provide legal advice or replace individual guidance about a specific issue with an attorney or HR expert. The information on this page is general human resources guidance that is believed to be current as of the date of publication. Note that CEDR is not a law firm, and as the law is always changing, you should consult with a qualified attorney or HR expert who is familiar with all of the facts of your situation before making a decision about any human resources or employment law matter.
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