Laws are in place to protect workers like you from exploitation, for instance by requiring employers to pay employees additional compensation for working overtime. However, not all laws apply to all workers. Here’s how you can know if you qualify for overtime payment.
When are you entitled to overtime pay?
There are both state and federal statutes that control overtime requirements. For most employees in New York, any time they spend working above and beyond the first 40 hours a week qualifies for overtime pay.
Overtime pay is usually 1.5 times your regular hourly rate of pay. This means that, if you make $15 an hour, you should be earning $15 for each of the first 40 hours in the week, and $22.50 for every hour after that.
However, there are certain industries and positions that are exempt from the state and federal overtime requirements.
For example, a Professional Employee Exemption exists for people who work as certified professionals, such as attorneys and doctors. Employees in these positions do not have a statutory right to overtime pay. Positions that fall into the Professional Employee Exemption are ones that satisfy the following two requirements.
First, the position’s primary duties must be in a specialized field of science or learning. These fields include law, pharmacy, architecture, medicine, and professions of that nature.
Second, the position’s responsibilities must require the employee to exercise judgment and discretion, and its results must depend upon the employee’s talent or imagination. In other words, it is not a position that any two people could perform identically – rather, it’s a position that you fulfill in a unique way based on your specialized education and training, coupled with your individual discretion.
If your position fits these requirements, then your employer may not be required to pay you for overtime hours.
However, exemptions are not always clear-cut. If you feel that your employer is wrongly depriving you of overtime payments, do not hesitate to contact an experienced employment law attorney to explore your options for recovering what you are entitled to.