Workweek Standards for Determining Your Overtime Wages

Galvin B. Kennedy
Galvin Kennedy is a founding partner of Kennedy Hodges. He focuses his practice to overtime and wage claims.
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When you don’t work a regular schedule, how are you supposed to keep track of your pay? How do you determine whether the overtime you work is actually overtime, or just the beginning of a new week? What if your employer is using the confusion to deny you of your rightful pay? Here are a few answers.

Clarifying Your Workweek 

Calculating pay and overtime wages can be extremely confusing—even in the best circumstances. Having to calculate your pay when you have a kooky schedule can be nearly impossible. One of the most frustrating aspects of checking your wages and determining your overtime (OT), is figuring out when your workweek begins and where it ends. This determination is easy when you have a set schedule where you always have the weekend off. Unfortunately, for many oil workers their schedules aren’t so simple. Some work the weekends, some work late shifts into the weekend, and some start the workweek smack dab in the middle of the week.

According to the Department of Labor (DOL), the official definition of a workweek is a “fixed and regularly recurring period of 168 hours — seven consecutive 24-hour periods that begin on any day and at any hour of the day.” The Texas Workforce Commission recognizes that employers can establish a single workweek for a plant or other establishment as a whole, or establish various workweeks for different employees. However, once the beginning time of an employee's workweek is established, and doesn’t evade the Fair Labor Act’s workweek standards, it remains fixed regardless of the schedule of hours worked by the employee.

In general, this means that between Sunday and Saturday, full-time employees should be scheduled for 40 hours with at least two days off within the seven-day period. However, these scheduled days do not have to coincide with the calendar week. For example an employee could have Tuesday and Wednesday off, but work Thursday through Sunday. However, even though the workweek is technically Thursday through Sunday, his employer could establish that paychecks reflect the beginning of the pay week is Monday. This means that you must calculate your pay beginning with the hours you worked starting Monday at 12:00 a.m. through Sunday at 11:59 p.m. If for some reason you work overtime into Monday, that time will be reflected on the next pay week’s schedule and may not be considered overtime if you don’t work the full 40 hours in that workweek.

Keep track of your workweek by doing the following:

  • Verify with payroll the start and end of the pay week. This is generally either a Sunday or Monday.
  • Keep a hardcopy of your weekly schedule with the pay week start and end clearly identified. Make sure to use a different color line or markings.
  • Write down the hours in which you work. This is especially important if your hours are overnight shifts or hours that pass midnight.
  • Calculate your hours every week. You should do this even if you are paid biweekly to make sure all of your hours are accounted for on your checks.
  • Speak to your employer about how overtime is divvied up during month changes or schedule changes. Partial workweeks at the end of a semi-monthly pay period may not count toward overtime for previous workweeks. Each workweek stands alone.

Make Sense?

Considering the potential risks of employers miscalculating or intentionally withholding overtime pay in the disguise of confusion, do you think there should be a workweek standard? Should there be an easier way to calculate OT? Should the DOL monitor employers better when it comes to overtime? Let us know your thoughts by leaving your opinions and questions in the comment section.

 

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