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Rules on Compressed Workweeks and Overtime

For many organizations, offering compressed workweeks can lead to higher levels of productivity and lower overhead from reduced use of facilities. Compressed workweeks may also benefit employees, giving them one more day off per week to attend to personal business.

This alternative workweek schedule can benefit certain industries, such as health care, where medical personnel can remain working with the same patients for longer hours per day, thus maintaining a high level of care. Manufacturing firms, technology companies, and even public service organizations may also choose to offer alternative compressed workweeks to cover rotating shifts. However, employers must maintain complete records of all hours worked, and pay overtime as required by law.

Employers must be careful about compressed workweeks if they extend over 40 hours per week for an hourly employee, which can result in overtime. According to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), “covered nonexempt employees must receive overtime pay for hours worked over 40 per workweek (any fixed and regularly recurring period of 168 hours — seven consecutive 24-hour periods) at a rate not less than one and one-half times the regular rate of pay.” (This ruling does not apply to unpaid staff such as volunteers and interns, nor is it a requirement for independent contractors.) Some states have even stricter overtime laws; for example, California requires any work over eight hours a day for nonexempt employees to be considered overtime.

This is not intended as legal advice; for more information, please click here.

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