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HR Insights: Overtime Rules for Long Workdays

Is there a legally required overtime rules for long workdays, even if I didn't work 40 hours?

HR Insights: Expert answers to common HR Questions


"I'm employed at a warehouse, and my boss has asked a few of us to extend our work hours to complete some new ongoing projects. I don't really have an issue with staying back a little to assist, but the thing is, we're working for more than 13 hours a day. And just as we're about to cross the 40-hour mark for the week, he sends us home, which means I don't get any overtime pay for all the extra effort I'm putting in. Is this legal? Are there overtime rules for long workdays, even if I didn't work 40 hours? "


What you are referring to is the ‘40 hour workweek’ rule - As defined under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA); employees must be compensated at one and one-half times their normal rate for any work they do above 40 hours. Depending on the salary or type of job, some employees may be exempt from overtime, which means they are not required to be compensated at a higher rate for working more than 40 hours. For more information about exemptions to overtime pay, you can check out the article Vida HR has on the subject: LINK HERE.

However, that’s not where the story ends. Depending on state law, you may still be owed overtime wages. In Colorado, employees are required to be paid overtime if one of the following three things occur:

  1. The employee works more than 40 hours in a workweek

  2. The employee works more than 12 hours in a workday

  3. The employee works twelve consecutive hours without regard to the starting and ending time of the workday.

This isn’t unique to Colorado. California pays normal overtime compensation for all hours worked after 8 in a workday, up to 12 hours. Anything above 12 hours is paid at twice the employee’s normal rate of pay. In addition, if working seven consecutive days, normal overtime compensation is provided for the first 8 hours on the seventh day, any twice an employee’s normal rate for anything over that.

Many states have stricter overtime laws than what is listed in the FLSA, and some of them include overtime rules about hours in a workday, not just a workweek. Employers who are concerned they might owe their employees overtime should look at their state (or states) of operation and see what overtime laws affect them. If you are a Vida HR Client, you can consult your HR Business Partner about this information.


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