How to Calculate Overtime Pay for Hourly and Salaried Employees

Working overtime
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The federal government (specifically the Department of Labor) assumes that all employees must be paid overtime if they work more than a certain number of hours in a week. Calculating overtime for hourly employees is fairly simple, but some salaried employees also must be paid overtime. This calculation is a little trickier. 

How Overtime Works

If an employee works more than a specified number of hours in a week, the additional hours are called overtime. Pay for any hours worked as overtime are paid at a higher rate than regular hours. 

Overtime pay for hourly employees is the additional pay rate paid for working more than a specific number of hours in a week. The federal minimum for overtime for hourly employees is that the person ​must be paid one and a half times the regular hourly rate for work over 40 hours a week. So, an hourly employee working 45 hours a week for $10 an hour would be paid $10 for 40 hours and $15 an hour for the 5 hours of overtime. 

Salaried employees are typically exempt from overtime if their weekly income is over a specific amount. A salaried employee earning less than $455 a week ($23,660 annually) must receive overtime pay for hours worked over 40 hours in a week. 

Paying Employees More Than Minimum Required Overtime

This article discusses the minimums for calculating and paying overtime, as required by federal and state laws. Your business must comply with this minimums, but you may decide to pay employees at a higher rate, and for overtime starting at lower hours per week. 

Some employers, for example, pay "double time" (twice the normal hourly rate) for holidays. Overtime pay is not required for night, holiday, or weekend work; these rates are determined by the employer or by union contracts.

Federal Employee Pay Regulations

The Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor regulates overtime and other pay provisions through the Fair Labor Standards Act. In addition to overtime provisions, the Act regulates child labor and minimum wage activities of U.S. employers.

The Fair Labor Standards Act requires that hourly employees who work more than 40 hours in a workweek must be paid at a higher rate for the overtime hours, at a minimum of 1 1/2 times the employee's regular pay rate.

State Overtime Regulations

Some states have regulations for overtime and other labor laws that exceed those of the federal government. In this case, the more strict regulation must be met. Check with your state's labor department to review state labor laws, or check with your employment attorney.

Calculating Overtime for Hourly Employees

Here's how the overtime pay calculation works: 

Overtime pay is the amount of overtime paid to each employee in a pay period. Overtime pay is calculated: Hourly pay rate x 1.5 x overtime hours worked.

Here is an example of total pay for an employee who worked 42 hours in a workweek:

  • Regular pay rate x 40 hours = Regular pay, plus
  • Regular pay rate x 1.5 x 2 hours = Overtime pay, equals
  • Total pay for the week.

A more detailed example: 

An employee works 50 hours in a week. Her normal pay rate is $15 an hour. So she is paid $600 for her 40 hours at $15 an hour, plus $225 for her additional 10 hours of overtime (at $15 x 1.5 x 10 = $225). Her total pay for the week would be $825. 

Why Some Employees Are Exempt From Overtime

Because of the nature of their work, some employees are considered to be exempt from receiving overtime pay. In order to be classified as exempt, an employee must have specific types of job duties.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) recognizes executive, administrative, professional, outside sales, and some computer employees as exempt. Exempt classification is on a case-by-case basis and is not based on the job title of the employee.

Calculating Overtime for Exempt Employees

As noted above, lower-paid exempt employees may be eligible for overtime. To calculate overtime for these employees, use the same overtime policy you have for hourly employees. Then you can use one of three methods:  

Method 1: It's assumed that an exempt employee's salary is based on 2080 hours of work per year (basically, 50 weeks of work and two weeks of vacation). Using that assumption, you can calculate the employee's hourly rate. Let's say the employee makes $31,000 a year. Dividing $31,000 by 2080 gives an hourly rate of $14.90. You can use that hourly rate to calculate overtime for a week of work. 

Method 2: (This method is suggested by Patriot Software): take the employee's pay for a week and divide it by the normal hours of work during that week. If the employee is paid $500 for a week and is expected to work 36 hours, the employee's hourly rate is $13.89 an hour. If the employee works 45 hours in the week. Overtime usually begins at 40 hours, so the employee would be paid at the regular $13.89 an hour for 40 hours, and at 1.5 x $13.89 for the additional 5 hours. 

The total pay for that employee for the pay period would be $13.89 x 40 = $555.60 plus 20.84 x 5 hours = $104.16 totaling $$659.76. 

Record Keeping of Overtime

The FLSA requires employers to keep records of payments to employees, including overtime pay. In the case of an audit, an employer must be able to prove payment of overtime that meets FLSA requirements.

Proposed Changes to Overtime Rules

In November 2016, a federal judge suspended the Department of Labor's new overtime rules. The regulations, which were scheduled to take effect December 1, 2016, would have raised the salary limit below which workers automatically would qualify for overtime, even if the workers were exempt. The Department of Labor is considering other changes to the overtime rules.