With the beginning of the new year, W-2 forms will soon be filling mailboxes. Upon review, some of you may ponder why you are not receiving overtime. Overtime laws are designed to prevent workers from being exploited by their employers. However, 40% of workers are exempt from overtime laws.
Most states, including West Virginia, have closely based overtime laws on the Fair Labor Standards Act, which is administered by the U.S. Department of Labor. The FLSA qualifies certain types of workers for overtime pay for all hours worked over 40 in a single week. If your work involves manual labor (such as factory worker, trade worker, attendant, cashier, etc) you are typically entitled to overtime pay. Certain categories of workers are offered specific protection under the FLSA, including first-responders, such as police, paramedics, and firefighters, along with practical nurses and paralegals, who have historically been exploited and endured long hours of work.
Most executives, administrators, and other professionals do not have to be paid overtime under both federal and West Virginia law. External salespeople and certain types of: computer-related workers, seasonal workers, transportation workers, agricultural and farm workers, and live-in employees, such as housekeepers, are also exempted from overtime requirements. Independent contractors, who are not considered employees, are also exempt.
A series of tests are employed to determine the overtime eligibility of an employee based on pay rate, working conditions, skill level, and other factors. Those who qualify must be paid 1.5 times their regular hourly rate (“time-and-a-half”) for every hour over 40 per work week (7 fixed days) they work. The FLSA does not require overtime pay for work on weekends or holidays, unless overtime hours occur on such days.
If your employer has failed to pay you the proper overtime wages that you deserve, you may be eligible to receive back wages and other compensation. Furthermore, existing regulations prohibit employers from penalizing workers who file an overtime complaint.
Some companies will go to great lengths to avoid paying their employees the overtime pay that they deserve. Companies may resort to classifying employees as independent contractors or improperly categorizing them executives in order to avoid overtime. If you find yourself in this situation or need help determining whether you have a right to overtime, you should contact a qualified attorney.