Massachusetts and federal law require the payment of overtime at a rate of one and a half times an employee's normal rate of pay for each hour worked beyond forty (40) in a workweek. There are a handful of exceptions to the overtime laws, which we will address shortly, but, in general, most workers are entitled to overtime. Most importantly, an employer's declaration that an employee is exempt from overtime is not necessarily binding - as with the Independent Contractor Statute, eligibility for overtime is determined by law and is not up to an employer to decide.  

A workweek is any seven day period - it does not have to be a calendar week - and your employer may set any workweek he wants as long as the workweek is not repeatedly changed.  The payment of overtime is not up to your boss - if you are covered by the overtime laws, you are automatically entitled to "time-and-a-half" for each hour beyond forty (40) in a workweek.

The hours counted in a workweek do not just include "scheduled" time. Work that is not requested but is permitted by an employer also counts when calculating hours worked. For example, If an employee is "scheduled" for only 40 hours in a workweek but ends up spending 50 hours to get all his work done, the employee is entitled to overtime for the 10 additional hours if otherwise eligible for overtime. The failure to pay overtime is a serious violation of state and federal labor laws and the law creates important legal rights for employees who have been denied overtime, including the right to monetary compensation.

As discussed in the minimum wage section, hours worked includes time spent under the control of an employer or for the benefit of an employer, even if no work is being performed. The simplest way to think about this may be from the perspective of the employer. If an employer hires you, the employer is entitled to "spend" up to 40 hours of your time at your normal rate of pay. As soon as the employer spends more than forty hours of your time in a workweek, he must pay a premium for that time. If you spend time under the control of your employer, your employer must properly compensate you for that time.

If you have any questions about overtime pay or believe you have been improperly compensated, do not hesitate to contact our office or fill out the form on the right.