In most American workplaces, the 40-hour workweek is the standard. Workers, usually those who are not on a salary, can receive overtime if they work over that in some cases.
For salaried workers, it’s possible that no overtime will be allowed. In that case, can those workers refuse to work more than the traditional 40-hour workweek?
If you work over 40 hours, you may or may not get overtime
Overtime laws are nuanced, so if you are a salaried worker and are asked to stay over 40 hours, you may or may not get overtime. It’s only non-exempt salaried employees who are paid overtime. According to the Fair Labor Standards Act, employees can be exempt if they’re paid at least $455 weekly (as of 2019). That may be boosted, but it’s still a low bar. That means that people earning over $23,660 on salary may have to work over 40 hours a week without overtime pay in some places.
California has made an exception to this rule and states that workers who work over eight hours in a day should be paid overtime. Working every day of the week also qualifies people for overtime. Since there are exceptions, you should find out more about your employer’s legal obligations if you have questions about how much you should be paid for your time.
So, can you refuse overtime?
In most cases, you won’t be able to refuse overtime, even if you’re not being paid more than your usual salary or base wage. This is because employers have a right to force you into mandatory overtime, since the FLSA doesn’t set a maximum limit on a workweek. California law doesn’t stop employers from penalizing employees who refuse to work overtime.
Overtime laws can be confusing, but it is okay to ask for help
If you find yourself confused about your pay scale, what is expected of you at work or if your employer can ask you to work overtime, it’s important to look into your legal rights and to get help to better understand your employment contract. This can help you avoid confusion and conflicts with your employer.