Most labor protection laws exist to promote the general well-being of workers and to prevent companies from taking advantage of their workers. Overtime wages are a perfect example.

There comes a point where a person can work themselves into exhaustion and negatively impact their current health and future work ability by continuing to do strenuous labor. Additionally, working a huge number of hours every week will diminish someone’s ability to engage in self-care and to maintain their family relationships and friendships.

In order to prevent employers from overworking their staff and to ensure that hard-working people receive adequate compensation for their efforts, federal law mandates overtime wages. Hourly workers can receive 100% and 50% of their base rate of pay four hours over 40 that they work in a given pay. Do salaried workers ever qualify for overtime pay?

Some companies are generous with overtime for salaried workers

There is no federal law prohibiting employers from compensating salaried workers extra when they work extra hours. Some companies want their workers to volunteer for overtime, such as picking up an extra production shift on a Saturday. Offering overtime even when federal law does not require it is one way for companies to motivate staff to work extra hours and pick up extra shifts. If your contract says you should receive overtime, you have a right to that extra pay regardless of other factors.

Some salaried workers qualify for overtime pay because of a low salary

It’s easy to see how a company could abuse the exemption of salaried workers from overtime requirements. They might give someone a salary that looks like 40 hours a week of minimum wage and then demand that that person put in 60 hours of hard labor.

In order to prevent this kind of abuse, the federal government establishes a mandatory minimum for the salary of a worker who is exempt from overtime. If your employer pays you less than $35,568 a year or $684 a week, you may have a right to overtime wages for any hours over 40 that you work in that week.

If your employer won’t pay or retaliates against you when you try to claim your overtime wages or advised co-workers of their right to overtime pay, you may need to take legal action against the company to get what they owe you.