How can I calculate how much overtime pay I’m missing on my checks?

You’ve worked as a paralegal for about six months. An average day consists of a hectic nine hours at the firm, and then an additional two hours’ worth of answering emails at home. Now, you love the fast paced atmosphere and the fact that you’re constantly learning new things, but since you’re working at least 10 hours a day, five times a week—shouldn’t you be paid overtime (OT)?

You’ve discussed the matter with your co-workers and they agree that you should be getting OT. They informed you that since you’re paid hourly and aren’t subject to OT exemption, you indeed should be getting overtime pay for overtime worked. In light of this information, you decide to take the matter up with your boss. However, before taking him copies of your paychecks, you want to make sure you’ve calculated the OT pay correctly.

You have evidence of the times you worked as well as the dates, but how do you figure out the exact amount that you’re owed? 

Determining OT Rates and Pay

The United States Department of Labor (DOL), along with the Fair Labor Standards Act guarantees employees who work over 40 hours in a work week, proper overtime (OT) wages. Although some exceptions apply—employee exemptions and broken work weeks—if your regular work week consists of five, eight-hour days, and at any point during that week you work over your eight hours without leaving early any other day, the extra time worked should be paid at an OT rate.

Determining your OT rate can be confusing since it isn’t the same for everyone. The DOL regulates that OT should be calculated as one and half times your normal pay. However, determining your normal pay can get tricky depending on bonuses, shift premiums, and your regular hourly rate.

Regular Hourly Rate (RHR)

If you’re paid a specific hourly rate and nothing more, calculating your OT is relatively simple. All you have to do is first take your regular hourly rate and then multiply that by 1.5 to give you your OT rate. You then subtract 40 from the number of hours that you worked in one week; this will give you your OT hours. Finally, you multiply your OT hours with your OT rate in order to give you your total OT pay for that week.

Note: you must calculate on a week by week basis, especially if your work week hours vary.

For example: If your hourly wage is $10.00, and you work 48 hours in one week, your OT pay will be $120.00

            $10.00 (1.5) = $15.00

            48 hours - 40 hours = 8 hours

            8 hours ($15.00) = $120.00

Therefore, you’re entire check should be $520.00. Which includes your normal pay of $400.00 plus OT of $120.00.

RHR + Shift Premium

If you receive production bonuses or shift premiums, you must factor them into your RHR before calculating your OT. For example, if your hourly rate is $10.00 but you receive a shift premium of $1.50, your RHR is actually $11.50. Once you have your actual RHR you can then follow the normal OT formula of RHR which is 1.5 x OT Hours.

RHR + Bonus

If you receive a production bonus, then you must divide that bonus by hours worked in order to get your RHR. For example, if your RHR is $10.00, you work 48 hours that week and receive a $15.00 production bonus, your actual RHR is:

            $10.00 (48 hours) + 15.00 = $495.00 total wages

            $495.00 / 40 (normal hours) = Actual RHR of $12.38

You then use your new RHR in your OT formula to determine your OT pay.

Getting the Wages You Have Earned

Once you’ve calculated your rightful overtime pay, you should double check it with your pay stubs. If your checks don’t accurately reflect your calculations, speak to your boss immediately. If he refuses to check up on it, or denies you the overtime pay you deserve, call us for a free consultation. We know the ins and outs of overtime law and we’ll not only make sure your calculations are correct, but we may be able to help you receive the pay your employer doesn’t want you to have. Don’t allow your hard work and time to go unrewarded, call us to make sure you get paid all of what you deserve.

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Galvin B. Kennedy
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Galvin Kennedy is a founding partner of Kennedy Hodges. He focuses his practice to overtime and wage claims.