How To Calculate Overtime Pay (2024 Update)

In this article, we'll show you how to calculate overtime pay, which employees are entitled, and tips for saving thousands on overtime costs.
Time Tracking Fundamentals
Understanding Labor Laws
GPS Tracking
Tracking More Than Time
Time Tracking Benefits
Choosing A System
Implementing A System
Time Tracking Fundamentals
Understanding Labor Laws
GPS Tracking
Tracking More Than Time
Time Tracking Benefits
Choosing A System
Implementing A System

Accurate Time Tracking Is So Much Easier With Workyard

Few things can sink a project as fast as unchecked overtime. But before you can start managing your overtime, you need to know how to calculate it. This guide will help you understand the rules around overtime, how to calculate overtime pay and how to manage it more effectively so you save time and money.

Let’s start with defining what overtime pay actually is. 

What Is Overtime Pay?

Overtime pay is an employee entitlement that ensures those who work more than their standard work week hours are compensated at a higher rate of pay for the additional hours worked.

Note this is always measured based on a predefined work week schedule you have set for the employee regardless of your payroll frequency. For example, you may pay an employee bi-weekly, but for the purpose of calculating overtime, you are always performing the calculation based on a standard work week starting on a specific day.

Federal overtime laws require employers to pay non-exempt employees who work more than 40 hours in a week at least time and a half for the extra time they put in.

For example, if an employee makes $20 an hour, they would receive $30 for each hour of overtime they work.

Overtime laws were included in the Labor’s Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) in 1938 and have been part of federal labor laws since then. In addition, certain states also have their own overtime laws that complement the federal rule, more on this later.

Which Employees Are Entitled To Overtime Pay?

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) provides guidance to help you determine which employees on your team are entitled to overtime pay, and which ones aren’t.

It’s important to get the employee classification right because misclassifying employees can result in costly penalties that can retroactively apply to all of their past wages while working for your business. 

Here is a summary of the FLSA’s guidelines on how to determine whether an employee is exempt or not exempt from overtime:

  • Exempt employees: Exempt employees are exempt from overtime pay. They are generally paid a weekly salary of over $684 per week rather than an hourly wage. According to the FLSA, executives, administrative positions, professionals, outside sales employees, teachers, and IT workers are exempt positions.
  • Non-exempt employees: Nonexempt means that the employee is not exempt from the FLSA and must be paid overtime for their extra hours worked. They’re typically hourly employees paid by the hour or earn less than $684 per week if they are a salaried employee. Non-exempt employees are directly supervised by managers and are expected to follow specific instructions, without making their own management decisions. Non-exempt employees tend to dominate the construction, maintenance, warehouse, and production industries because they involve physical labor and carrying out repetitive tasks.

Keep in mind laws regarding exempt versus nonexempt can differ at a state level, so make sure you check the specific definition in your state.

FLSA Rules Vs State Specific Rules

For the most part, individual states follow federal law—overtime is paid after 40 hours worked in a work week. But there are some exceptions you need to be aware of when you calculate overtime pay.

When state law conflicts with federal law, the decision is always made based on what is better for the employees but usually, state laws are complementary to federal law and just add additional conditions whereby the employee is entitled to overtime.

Alaska Overtime
Overtime in Alaska applies for over 40 hours worked in a week or more than eight hours a day.
California Overtime
Overtime in California applies for over 40 hours worked in a week, or over eight hours a day, or over six days in a work week. 
Employees in California must also be paid double time if they have worked over 12 hours in a single day or have worked eight hours on the seventh consecutive day of a single work week. Check out our guide on California overtime law for a more detailed explanation.
Colorado Overtime
Overtime in Colorado applies when over 40 hours are worked in a week, 12 hours in a work day, or over 12 consecutive hours.
Kansas Overtime
Overtime in Kansas applies when over 46 hours are worked in a week unless the employee is covered by the FLSA.
Maryland Overtime
Overtime in Maryland is mostly governed by federal law, but there are some exceptions for specific professions.
Michigan Overtime
Overtime in Michigan applies to employers with two or more employees.
Minnesota Overtime
Overtime in Minnesota applies when over 48 hours are worked in a week unless the employee is covered by the FLSA.
Nevada Overtime
Overtime in Nevada applies when over 40 hours are worked in a week or eight hours in a 24-hour period if the employee makes less than 1.5 times the minimum hourly wage.
New York Overtime
Overtime in New York may be applied to employees who would otherwise be exempt under federal law. Further, overtime pay must be at a rate of 1.5 times minimum wage for these otherwise exempt employees.
Pennsylvania Overtime
Overtime in Pennsylvania is governed by federal law, but some federally exempt employees may be included.
Vermont Overtime
Overtime in Vermont applies to employers with two or more employees.
Virginia Overtime
Overtime in Virginia may be applied to employees who would otherwise be exempt under federal law. Further, there are harsher penalties for those who do not pay overtime correctly.
Washington Overtime
Double-time pay may be required for overtime on public works projects. Overtime cannot be mandated for registered or licensed practical nurses.
West Virginia Overtime
Overtime is governed by federal law but can also be applied to businesses that meet the following three criteria: the business cannot apply for federal “enterprise” coverage; 80 percent of the company’s employees are exempt due to interstate commerce activity; the business has six non-exempt employees working at a permanent location.

If you’re not clear about your state’s overtime laws, you should talk to a payroll specialist—they’ll be able to point you in the right direction.

How To Calculate Overtime Pay

For most non-exempt hourly workers, the federal rule is that every hour over the standard 40-hour workweek must be paid as time and a half. Some states have more complex overtime rules, but if you are simply subject to the federal rule, the calculation is as simple as follows:


Calculate the Employee’s Overtime Rate An employee’s overtime rate is 1.5 times their hourly wage. If an employee is working at $20 an hour, their overtime rate would be $20 x 1.5 = $30.
(Hourly Wage) x 1.5 = (Overtime Rate)


Determine How Many Hours They Worked Overtime Any hour over 40 will be considered overtime. If an employee worked 55 hours, their overtime hours would be 55 – 40 = 15 (Total Hours Worked) – 40 = (Overtime Hours)


Calculate Their Overtime Pay An employee’s overtime pay will be the overtime hours they worked multiplied by their overtime rate. If an employee’s overtime rate is $30 and they worked 15 hours overtime, their overtime pay is $30 x 15 = $450.
(Overtime Rate) x (Overtime Hours) = (Overtime Pay)

Of course, that’s not all this employee would be making. They would also be making their standard wage ($20 x 40 hours = $800). Their full wage for the week would be $1,250.

Some employees are exempt from overtime. Most salaried employees, such as administrative personnel, are considered exempt from overtime however new regulations, effective January 1, 2020, do require exempt employees paid less than $684 a week to receive overtime pay. Independent contractors do not qualify for overtime pay.

How To Calculate Overtime Pay For Salaried Employees

As noted above, salaried employees may also be classified as non-exempt and be eligible for overtime.

Calculating overtime for these employees is a very similar process to calculating overtime for hourly employees except for you have to determine the salaried employees’ hourly pay rate.

To calculate overtime for a salaried employee:

  1. Take the employee’s gross weekly salary and divide it by the number of hours in a normal workweek. For example, if the employee’s weekly salary is $1000 and their normal workweek is 38 hours, the employee’s hourly rate is $26.32 per hour.
  2. Assuming the federal rule applies in your state, overtime begins at 40 hours, so if an employee works 42 hours in the week, they would be paid at the regular rate of $26.32 an hour for the 40 non-overtime hours, and at 1.5 x $26.32 for the additional two overtime hours worked. 
  3. The total weekly salary paid for that employee for the week would be $26.32 x 40 = $1052.80 plus 20.84 x 2 hours = $78.96 totaling $1131.76. 

Calculating Weighted Overtime

In situations where you pay your non-exempt employees’ at different pay rates depending on the jobs or types of tasks they are doing you will need need to use a Weighted Average Overtime (WAOT) calculation method.

The Weighted Average Overtime Calculation method will help you compute a weighted average pay rate to be used for the employee when calculating overtime. The easiest way to explain this is with an example:

  1. Let’s assume you paid an employee $20 per hour for 30 hours of work and $25 per hour for 20 hours of work within a work week.
  2. This means you paid them a total of $1100 ( $20 x 30 hours + $25 x 20 hours )
  3. The average rate of pay for the week was $22 per hour ( $1100 / 50 hours )
  4. To calculate their weighted average overtime compensation, you divide their average rate of pay by 2. So their weighted average overtime rate will be $11 per hour ($22 / 2)
  5. In this example, the employee had 10 hours of overtime hours worked ( 50 hours in total). So their additional overtime pay will be their weighted overtime rate multiplied by their overtime hours. In this example, $110 ($11 per hour x 10 hours).

Is It Illegal Not To Pay Overtime?

The short answer is yes. Failing to pay overtime exposes your business to lawsuits from employees that are currently employed by you and also past employees.

The Department of Labor actively investigates businesses that violate overtime laws, often triggered by employee complaints. When breaches are found the employer can be required to pay back the wages owed and in addition a liquidated damages penalty. Violations that appear to be committed on purpose can also result in fines of up to $10,000 and even imprisonment if the business owner is a repeat offender. 

Managing Overtime Hours More Effectively With A Time Tracking App

Calculating overtime is easy, but actually tracking and collecting overtime hours from your employees can be a nightmare.

If you’re still tracking employee hours through paper time keeping, text messages, or emails, you should seriously consider adopting a time tracking app like Workyard that will automatically capture and calculate overtime for you.

Key Benefits:

Automatically Calculate Overtime Hours
Employee time is tracked within the app, all employees have to do is simply clock in and out every day. Any hours over 40 will be automatically classified as “overtime.” These apps also allow you to actively monitor overtime so you can easily see which of your employees are about to exceed 40 hours.
Ensuring Your Overtime Hours Are Accurate
Through GPS time clock apps like Workyard, you’re likely to save thousands of dollars by completely eliminating misreported hours. Highly accurate GPS tracking monitors employee locations for every minute worked ensuring your team is where they claim to be, and avoiding misreported overtime.
Improve Your Work Allocation
Built-in electronic scheduling makes it easier to distribute schedules to your team, which can reduce administrative time and cut down on the number of hours employees need to spend managing their schedules.
Export Hours & Overtime Directly to Your Payroll System
Avoid painful data entry and costly mistakes by automating your payroll process. Time tracking apps like Workyard automatically integrate with popular payroll systems such as QuickBooks Online, QuickBooks Desktop, ADP, Paychex, Paylocity, Sage & more accounting systems. Payroll automation reduces the amount of time you spend on your payroll management while also reducing the potential for mistakes like overpaying overtime.

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