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Learn the Basics About Overtime Laws

Posted on Posted in Employees, Employers, General


Overtime laws were created as a method of penalizing employers who worked laborers beyond particular time limitations.  The idea was to promote fuller employment, reduce rates of accident and injury and protect family unity by allowing workers to spend more time with their families.

Many hardworking Floridians have a basic understanding of what they think overtime means, but how much do you really know about it?  In Florida, most hourly employees are entitled to a special overtime pay rate for any hours worked in excess of 40 hours in a single work week.   The Fair Labor Standards Act defines a work week as any seven consecutive work days.  As of January 2015, the minimum wage in Florida is $8.05 per hour.  The hourly rate for overtime is one and a half times your normal hourly rate.  This calculated overtime rate is sometimes referred to as “time and a half”.   If you make minimum wage, are paid hourly, and are eligible for overtime the minimum amount that you could be paid is 12.08 per hour for each hour that is over 40 hours worked in that week.


Certain types of workers are automatically qualified for entitlement of overtime under the FLSA.  Manual labor workers such as construction workers, factory attendants, and cashiers are most likely protected under overtime laws.  All first-responders, including police, paramedics, and firefighters, are specifically offered overtime protection under the FLSA. Practical nurses and paralegals are also similarly protected. Generally Blue collar workers are afforded greater protection regarding overtime.


While millions of American jobs are protected by overtime laws an estimated 50 million of the 120 million workers in America are exempt from these protections.

There are four main categories of exempted workers: Executives, Administrators, Professionals and Outside Sales.  If your job falls into one of these four main exemption categories you are not protected by Florida and Federal overtime regulations.

  1. Executive

An Executive position consists of full-time responsibility for the management of two or more employees. You must spend no more than 20% of your time doing other activities (or 40% in a retail environment), and your job should be a salaried position.

  1. Administrative

An Administrative position is primarily non-manual work that is related to business operations, management policies, or administrative training. This exemption applies to salaried employees who must spend no more than 20% of the time doing non administrative activities (described above) or 40% in a retail environment.

  1. Professional

A Professional position requires primarily require advanced knowledge and extensive education, including artists, certified teachers, and skilled computer professionals. Your job must be salaried, primarily intellectual, and you must be expected to use discression and judgement. You must spend no more than 20% of your time doing activities that are not directly related to the professional duties described above in order to be classified as a Professional.

  1. Outside Sales

An Outside Sales position’s main duties consist of making sales or working primarily outside of the employer’s main workplace. Outside Sales positions are sometimes salary-based but can also be commission-based.  You must not spend more than 20% of your time doing work other than sales to fall under this classification.

Independent contractors, who are not considered legal employees, are also exempt from overtime law. There are also specific exemptions relating to certain types of transportation workers, agricultural and farm workers, live-in employees such as housekeepers, and several types of technology-related workers.

If your job falls under any of the four categories described above, then unfortunately you are not covered by Federal or Florida unemployment regulations and your employer is not required to pay you an additional amount for overtime.

If your job is eligible for overtime protection under Florida and Federal overtime law as described above and is not exempted, your employer is required by law to pay you an additional overtime premium for all qualifying overtime hours worked. In 2008, close to 200,000 employees successfully received a total of $140,200,000 (140.2 million dollars) in overtime and minimum wage back wages from their employers as a result of filing an FLSA violation claim.