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Basics of overtime law

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Prior to accepting a position with a new employer, potential employees are able to negotiate certain elements of their employment contracts to receive the most favorable terms. One of the main issues in these contracts is often centered on how overtime is calculated and when an employee is even eligible for the extra pay. Before signing anything, employees should first learn what Pennsylvania and federal laws allow in regards to their individual situations and overtime pay.

Overtime law is largely governed by employee type, with some exemptions. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, when hourly employees work more than 40 hours of straight time per week, they must receive 1.5 times their normal compensation rate for those additional hours. All unexempt employees can legally face reprimand or termination if they refuse to work required overtime hours as directed by their employers. Certain salaried employees may also be entitled to compensation for this additional time worked, depending on their positions. However, overtime pay may not be waived through any agreement between an employer and employee.

The U.S. Department of Labor states that certain employees are not eligible for overtime pay. This includes executives, administrative and professional employees and those in computer-related jobs or outside sales.

It is important to note that certain employment contracts may trump these minimum criteria governing overtime pay. As a result, employees may wish to see if they can negotiate an increase in overtime rates or establish a limit on the amount of overtime they may be required to work in given period of time.