Fair Labor Standards and Overtime Pay

by LegalFix
Posted: April 18, 2023
workers' rights

Working overtime is certainly not something that most of us look forward to. In addition to taking time away from your personal life or other responsibilities, you may feel that the pay you get for your extra time isn’t worth it. While no amount of money may be worth the price of your work-life balance, did you know that if you work beyond a standard 40-hour work week, your employer is legally obligated to pay you an overtime pay rate of at least one-and-a-half times your normal hourly rate? 

What Is the Fair Labor Standards Act?

Signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1938, the Fair Labor Standards Act, or FLSA (codified as 29 U.S.Code § 203), guarantees American workers the right to a minimum wage, as well as "time-and-a-half" overtime pay when they work over 40 hours a week. 

FLSA is the same law federally prohibiting "oppressive child labor," although the specifics of what constitutes “oppressive” vary from state to state. 

Are All Workers Entitled to Overtime Pay?

The FLSA applies to all employees engaged in interstate commerce or employed by an enterprise engaged in commerce or the production of goods for commerce. While this definition may seem somewhat technical, what you need to know is that this covers the vast majority of businesses and workers in the US (unless the employer can claim a specific exemption from the law’s reach). 

While exceptions can be granted, the burden of proof for these exceptions falls fully onto the employer. This means that even if your employer claims that you’re not entitled to overtime pay, they have to be able to provide concrete evidence that you are exempt in court if they want to get out of paying you an overtime rate. 

It’s worth noting that not all work beyond your normal hours necessarily qualifies for overtime pay under the FLSA. For example, if you are normally only scheduled to work 30 hours per week, adding 10 hours at your normal rate may be “overtime” to you. However, you’d still be falling within the legal definition of normal work time. 

As noted above, there are a number of exceptions to the FLSA. For example, executive, administrative, professional, and outside sales employees: (as defined in Department of Labor regulations) who are paid on a salary basis are exempt from both the minimum wage and overtime provisions laid out in the Act.

It’s also important to note that independent contractors are not covered by the FLSA because they are not considered employees by the government. While some businesses have attempted to exploit this as a loophole by listing employees as contractors or volunteers, if the case does reach court, judges have the power to rule that the relationship between the putative employer and the worker still falls within the scope of the FLSA, despite the worker’s job title. 

Know Your Rights with LegalFix

Whether you’re trying to understand your rights as a worker or learn more about how our legal system operates, LegalFix is your go-to source for free legal information. You can find helpful articles and use the free search and information tools to better understand the state and federal laws that affect you. Just visit to find all this content — and check back often for more valuable legal products and services coming soon.