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September 8, 1999
Ms. Ruby Flowers
City of Lafayette
P.O. Box 275
Lafayette, Tennessee 37083
This letter is to put in black-and-white the answer to the question you asked this morning regarding overtime pay. Your question was, this week, with the Labor Day holiday, what is compensable overtime work under Federal law. To be more specific, you asked if city employees who work over 8 hours per day in the 4-day work week this week, would be due overtime pay. The short answer is no, they are not required to be paid overtime in a holiday-shortened work week of 32 hours, as long as they worked no more than 40 hours in those 4 days.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sets the workweek at 40 hours. The workweek can begin on any day and on any hour, and it runs 168 hours (7 days) from that time. The FLSA generally does not count how many hours per day an employee works; it counts the number of hours the employee actually worked during the workweek. If the employee worked more than 40 hours during that work week, they are entitled to overtime compensation under the FLSA for the hours worked over 40; if the employee worked 40 or less hours during that work week, they are entitled only to straight time. If your employees work four ten-hour days during a particular workweek, they have worked 40 hours during that work week for the purposes of the FLSA, and are not entitled to overtime pay for that workweek, regardless of how many working days were in that week. The traditional method of assuming any work over 8 hours per day is compensable overtime is incorrect: an employee can work 10 hours one day, 6 hours the next day, and 8 hours the other 3 days of a 5-day work week, and not be due overtime, since the total hours worked is still 40. Another key point is that holidays are not hours worked. They are paid time off, but do not count towards the 40 hours of work for that workweek.
Clearly, the city can pay overtime to your employees in any manner you see fit. Some jurisdictions follow the policy of paying overtime for anything worked beyond 8 hours per day, disregarding the total hours worked in the week. Some jurisdictions also compensate overtime with time off at a time-and-a-half rate, rather than increased pay, which FLSA permits. The only requirement is that you administer your policy uniformly.
The rules regarding 40-hour weeks do not apply to police and firefighters. Public safety employees have a different set of work periods and overtime hours that apply to their unique situations of working 8, 12, or 24 hour shifts, which I won’t get into here. If you need further information about public safety employees, we can provide that.
I hope this answers your questions. Please call at any time if you need any further assistance.
Special Projects Consultant