For the most part, the law is relatively clear about the rights of employees to receive wages for their work. Federal law establishes minimum wage obligations and certain payroll requirements for hourly workers. One of those most important protections is the right to overtime compensation when workers have to put in more than 40 hours of labor in a specific week. Overtime wages should generally be at least 150% of someone’s standard hourly wage.
Some workers paid on a salary basis are exempt from overtime wage requirements. However, most hourly employees should receive overtime if they put in extra hours. Some employers try to deprive their employees of their earned overtime wages by implementing an internal company policy forbidding overtime.
Corporate policy does not supersede federal law
Contrary to what those in management or human resources might claim, the organization’s policies do not determine what rights a worker has. Technically, employers can create a rule forbidding overtime or perhaps requiring pre-approval before a worker puts in an extra shift or stays past their 40th hour in a week.
Some companies might require that a manager sign off on overtime before it occurs. Others might request demand written permission from the corporate offices. Regardless of which policy system the company uses, a worker who has put in enough time to qualify for overtime pay deserves those wages.
Companies have the right to stop workers from putting in excess time to avoid overtime pay obligations. However, once that worker’s time clock records show that they went over 40 hours, the company must abide by federal law and compensate the worker appropriately.
The worker should not receive any punishment for knowing and asserting their federal pay rights. Unfortunately, many workers get bullied or manipulated out of securing the overtime wages that they deserve. If a worker discovers that their employer has violated their rights by tricking them into giving up overtime pay that they deserve, they may be in a position to take legal action against the company.
Sometimes, an organization informed of wage violations in a formal way might correct a prior error. Other times, workers may face major challenges and possibly even punitive actions from employers when they request payment for overtime if they have already worked. As such, pursuing a formal wage claim against an employer is sometimes necessary if a company has inappropriately enforced a zero-overtime policy.