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LABOR HOURS: Mandatory Overtime


Under federal law, there is no limit to the amount of overtime that an employer can require employees to work.  A company can require that employees work 16 hours per day, 7 days per week, for months on end. In fact, the company could even require that employees work more than that – 20 or more hours per day.

Both federal and state laws limit the number of hours that young people under 18 can be required to work. However, these laws don’t apply to workers over the age of 18.

Under the FLSA, the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, employers must pay an overtime premium equal to 1.5 times the employee’s usual hourly wage, for each hour that the employee works, over 40 hours in a payroll week. However, this law does not set any limit on the number of hours that an employer can require employees to work.

The majority of U. S. states have a similar overtime law at the state level that applies to smaller companies. However, most of those laws do not set any limit on the amount of overtime an employer can require.

When an employer requires that workers put in extra hours or be fired, that is called “mandatory overtime.” Mandatory overtime is perfectly legal in almost all states. An employer is well within his or her rights to fire a worker who refuses to work the mandatory overtime.

A few states limit the number of consecutive days that an employee can be required to work. Illinois, Wisconsin and New York have laws that require each employee to receive one day off in each payroll week. These are generally referred to as “one day rest in seven” laws. However, employers can require workers to put in as many hours as the employer wishes on the other 6 days.

In California, employees are entitled to overtime after 8 hours and double time on the 7th consecutive day. However, the employer can still require that workers put in mandatory overtime.

Some states limit the number of hours that an employee can be required to work, but only a handful, and usually under very specialized circumstances. For example, in Florida, an employee who performs manual labor may not be required to work over 8 hours per day. However, all other employees can.

A few states have limited mandatory overtime only for workers in specific professions. In Massachusetts, for example, nurses cannot be required to work overtime. Workers in all other professions can, under state law.

Illinois has a similar law for nurses, but there are myriad exceptions.

For a more specific answer, post a question that mentions your state.

This entry was posted on Thursday, January 31st, 2008 at 3:45 pm and is filed under
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123 Responses to “LABOR HOURS: Mandatory Overtime”

  1. Coy Garnett Says:

    I work at a company that has made Sat. Mandatory.I was wondering can my company Make Every Sat. Mandatory and for how long?This company is in the state of IL

    Editor’s note: Please repost as a question, rather than a comment, and we will be happy to answer it.

  2. Linda Smith Says:

    My husband had triple bypass surgery 18 months ago. He is 59 and still gets fatigued. His company has put him on a project which will require 12 hour days, 7 days a week for a minimum of 6 weeks. This schedule is too demanding. What can be done?

  3. Caitlin Says:

    This is a tough situation, because as the article says, employers in TX can legally require that employees work overtime.

    There are two exceptions that might apply to your husband. If his doctor certifies that he has a “serious health condition” then your husband might be entitled to take intermittent FMLA. In this case, your husband could work 40 hours per week and take 19 hours per week of FMLA. This would only work until your husband had taken 480 hours of FMLA.

    If your husband has a disability under the EEOC definition, he can request an accommodation from the employer. As long as it is not an undue hardship, the employer must grant the accommodation. However, the EEOC regulations for a disability are fairly strict. Normally an employee must be unable to carry out some functions of daily life, like bathing, shopping or taking public transportation, to qualify.
    If your husband thinks he is being singled out for negative treatment because of age, a disability or a percieved disability, he can file a complaint with the EEOC. However, it seems more probable that your husband’s condition is not a disability, but does prevent him from putting in the overtime this position allows.

    A final option would be for your husband to find a less demanding job.

  4. Tyler Pelley Says:

    I live in Florida, I work at a pharmaceutical packing plant and they tell me that I must work mandatory overtime. First they said our work schedule is mon-thurs, 10 hours per day. Then now they walk around with a paper saying “you have to sign this for mandatory overtime friday and saturday. if you dont come in you may be fired”.
    I thought that you were only required to work 40 hours a week and anything more than that is at your discretion. I already work 7am-5pm monday through friday, am I not allowed to have a life outside of my job??? I understand they need people, but a lot of people i work with are immigrants and dont know the law, most dont speak english. Am I working in one of those sweatshops I hear so much about? I just want to know the facts, thank you.

  5. Caitlin Says:

    Hi Tyler! Unfortunately, employers can make overtime mandatory in just about every state. For a more complete discussion of this issue, post a question on our sister site at And thanks for reading! Caitlin

  6. Rob Chandler Says:

    Is there an Illinois state or a Federal limit to the number of hours a person can be forced to work over a one year period?

    A co-worker has worked 85% of the days available this year to date and is now being forced in on days when he does not wish to work.

  7. Caitlin Says:

    Hi Rob!

    There is no limit under federal or Illinois law on the number of HOURS that an employee can be required to work — as long as the employer complies with applicable overtime laws. Theoretically an employer could require someone to work 100 hours per week.

    However, under Illinois statute, there is a limit to the number of DAYS that an employee can be required to work. Illinois is one of a very few states that has a law requiring employees to have a day off every week. The Illinois One Day Rest in Seven Act requires that employees have at least one day off in each calendar week. Employers can apply for an exemption, but only if the employee volunteers to work 7 days per week. So if your friend is being required to work 7 days per week, there is a remedy.

    Learn more about the Illinois law here:

    Readers in other states should note that most states do not have any similar law.

    Thanks for a great question, and for reading the blog! ~ Caitlin

  8. Dan Metiv Says:

    I live and work in Illinois as a paramedic and my company is requiring overtime… Any exceptions for paramedics similar to nurses? Thanks for your reply.

  9. Caitlin Says:

    Hi Dan! Unfortunately, no. Illinois does not have a law that protects paramedics from working mandatory overtime. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~Caitlin

  10. Dolores Carden Says:

    On mandatory overtime, how much of a notice must be given?

  11. Caitlin Says:

    Hi Dolores! Legally, it is not necessary for the employer to give workers any notice for mandatory overtime. Sometimes it is impossible for the employer to do so, as when an employee must work overtime because their relief called in sick. The best practice in HR is to give employees as much notice as possible, but sometimes that is none. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Caitlin

  12. Edward Pocilujko Says:

    Can an employer make you work one shift(approx 7 hours); punch out and then come back in 2 or 3 hours to work another 3 hours.

  13. Caitlin Says:

    Hi Edward! This is called a split shift, and it’s very common in the restaurant industry, where an employee will work the lunch shift, then clock out and come back for the dinner shift.

    In most states it is 100% legal. In a very few states like California, an employer has to pay the worker more when he or she is required to work a split shift. But in every case, an employer can require that an employee do this, and can fire the employee if he or she refuses. You can also post questions on our sister site at HTH, and thanks for reading the site!~ Caitlin

  14. Leigh Says:

    Our company requires that you physically work 80 hours in order to get overtime. This means if you take a personal day, it doesn’t count toward your regular hours and makes overtime not really overtime. Worked 94 hours my last pay period, but due to some personal time I received straight pay. Is this a standard practice?

  15. Caitlin Says:

    Hi Leigh!
    This is standard practice. In fact, it is almost universal practice to not count any vacation, sick or personal leave towards overtime.
    Under the federal FLSA or Fair Labor Standards Act, when an employee works more than 40 hours in a single payroll week, the employee is entitled to overtime. However, works means is physically present at the job, performing job duties. It does not mean ‘is paid for.’ So time worked does not include sick leave, vacation or personal days. If Jane works 40 hours one week, and is paid for one personal day, she is entitled to 48 hours of straight time. No overtime is involved.
    The only problem we have with your post is the suggestion that employees are paid overtime after working 80 hours in two weeks. If that is genuinely the way that your employer handles overtime, that is a violation of federal law. Overtime must be paid based on working more than 40 hours in a single payroll week, regardless of how long the payperiod is. Suppose Marsha is paid once every two weeks. One week, Marsha works 45 hours. The next week, she works 35 hours. Marsha must be paid 5 hours of overtime for the first week of the pay period, even though she only has a total of 80 hours worked in the pay period.
    Different overtime rules apply to small businesses in some states, which are not covered by federal law. You can also get answers to your questions on our sister site for employees, at HTH, and thanks for reading!~ Caitlin

  16. zoot2231 Says:

    If you are a salaried employee and your employer is requiring you to work 40-50 or more hours per week, are you entitled to overtime? I live in the state of Pennsylvania and my employer is requiring our IT development staff to do this and we are all salaried employees. If the company is not required to pay overtime, then it’s to their benefit to enforce the requirement of 40+ hours on a weekly basis. What rights do the employees have?

  17. Caitlin Says:

    Hi Zoot!
    Under both federal and Pennsylvania law, many salaried employees are exempt from overtime when they work more than 40 hours per week. This is true even if the employees work 80 or more hours per week.

    Under the federal FLSA or Fair Labor Standards Act, there are 5 classes of employees who are exempt from overtime. Computer workers such as programmers and systems analysts are one of those 5 classes of exempt employees.

    It is true that it is to the employers benefit to ensure that every salaried employee always works at least 40 hours per week. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Caitlin

  18. Dave Wilkinson Says:

    I live in Pa and I’m employed by [company name deleted]. I am a union member. Recently the employer has stated that they will enact mandatory overtime if there are not enough volunters. The contract states that our work week is 40hrs, 8 per day times 5. Can the company force overtime from people when mandatory overtime is not mentioned in the contract? This has never been negotiated, nor any agreement been signed.

  19. Caitlin Says:

    Hi Dave! Obviously, we cannot comment on a contract that we’ve never seen. But we will say that in general, any lawful activity not specifically excluded in a contract is allowed. Example: If a contract says nothing about overtime, then the employer can do as they like regarding overtime.
    Mandatory overtime is legal in every state.
    Frankly, in this economy, many people would be thrilled to have a job at all, much less be asked to work overtime. Many companies — including your employer — are laying workers off. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~Caitlin

  20. Andrew Says:

    I am an employer in Florida that would like to pay my exempt employees overtime, however I would like to be able to stop this practice in the future if it proves not to be working. If I begin to pay overtime to exempt employees, will I later be bound to continue to do so, even though their jobs remain the same, and they are unquestionably exempt employees?

  21. Caitlin Says:

    Hi Andrew! The way to do this is to change the employees to non-exempt or hourly status. When you pay an employee overtime, you are changing their status to non-exempt under the FLSA. You cannot pay an employee overtime and maintain the employees exempt status. You cannot suddenly at some point in the future decide that the employee is no longer entitled to overtime. And, you cannot switch the employee between exempt and non-exempt status at will, especially if it appears that this is done to avoid paying overtime.
    Ideally, if you are changing classifications, you would permanently reclassify every exempt employee in the company as non-exempt, and that classification would remain in effect for a minimum of three months. At some point in the future, if you want to reclassify every employee who qualifies as exempt, you could do so. But reclassifying just a few employees would pose a legal problem.
    There is no law that an employer must consider an employee exempt. Regardless of job duties, you can legally pay any employee, even the CEO, on an hourly basis, as long as you do so consistently. However, that will mean that when the employee works less than 40 hours in the week he or she is paid only for the hours that they work. And, the employee will be entitled to overtime when they work more than 40 hours in the week. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~Caitlin

  22. mare Says:

    In New York , can an employer exceed 6 days of work in one pay period? Also, is there a policy stating that an employer must allow ample amount of time to notify an employee for mandatory 6th or 7th day (saturday/sunday)labor? I know someone that is working 10 hour days (monday-friday), and was told on thursday (only 2 days before) that he has to work on saturday for more overtime. please help me find out what is truly correct.

    thanks so much

  23. Caitlin Says:

    Hi mare! Yes, a New York employer can require that an emloyee work 7 days per week. In fact, the employer could require that the employee work 7 days per week every week. A few states have a law requiring one day rest in seven, but New York is not one of them.
    Employers are required to pay overtime when an employee works more than 40 hours per week. As long as the employer pays the overtime, the employer can require the employee to work any number of hours in the week.
    It is a best practice in HR to give employees as much notice of schedule changes as possible. However, under New York law, the employer is not required to give notice to the employee that he or she must work overtime. The employer could even tell the employee at 5 pm on Friday that he or she will be required to work on Saturday. Or, the employer could call the employee at home at Friday at 8 pm and require the employee to return to work. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Caitlin

    Read more about this at:

  24. Mary K Says:

    Our company pays every 2 weeks. We only recieve overtime after more than 80 hours in the two week pay period as worked, regardless if we work 50 hours the first week and only 30 the second week. If it is not over the 80 hours in the two week period we do not get over time. Reading the above, I am understanding this is not legal. I live in NC.

  25. Caitlin Says:

    Hi Mary! You are correct. Both federal and North Carolina law require that employees be paid overtime when working more than 40 hours in the payroll week, not more than 80 hours in the payroll period. You should report violations to the North Carolina Department of Labor at HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Caitlin

  26. Sahara Says:

    In MA, is it legal for an employer to change a 9-5 administrative position to 10-6 to avoid paying OT (“we need to cut costs somehow” was my manager’s explanation).

  27. Caitlin Says:

    Hi Sahara! Yes. In fact, a Massachusetts employer could change the employees schedule to midnight to 8 am, and it would be legal. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Caitlin

  28. Leslie Says:

    If employees are required to attend happy hour after work to celebrate administrative professionals day, are they entitled to overtime pay?

  29. Caitlin Says:

    Hi Leslie! In some cases when employees are required to attend mandatory company functions such as meetings or “social” events they are indeed entitled to payment for that time.
    Even if the employees are not entitled to payment for the time, this type of company-sponsored social event is unwise. If an employee has an accident on the drive home, and injures themselves or someone else, the company would be liable — even if the employee was intoxicated. At a minimum, the employer should arrange transportation home for anyone who has consumed an alcoholic beverage.
    We will also note that employers should have a frank conversation with employees about what type of “appreciation” or incentives the employees would prefer. This is an example of a situation that occurs frequently, where the employer is providing a “benefit” that the employees actually resent. Actions like this actually decrease employee morale and productivity. HTH, and thansk for reading the blogs!~ Caitlin

  30. rich Says:

    hello i live in Pennsylvania and work for a temp employee service provider. My question is if the company that the temp service sends me to says that we have to do mandatory overtime or we get fired do i have to work the overtime since i only get paid for 37.5hours in a work week?

  31. Caitlin Says:

    Hi Rich! There are really two different questions here. 1) If the client says you have to work overtime, or be fired, do you have to do it? The answer is, yes, you do, although the client should really be having this conversation with the temp agency, not with you. 2) Are you entitled to payment for every hour that you work, and overtime when you work more than 40 hours per week, as a non-exempt employee? Again, the answer is yes, you are.
    If there are both employees and workers from the temp agency on the same project, the client might mean that employees need to work overtime (and temp workers do not.)
    Otherwise, this sounds like this is a problem that the temp agency and the employer need to resolve. You should report to the temp agency that the client has told you to work overtime, point out that you would be entitled to overtime pay, and ask them how you should handle it. If they require you to work overtime, and then do not pay you time-and-one-half over 40 hours, file a wage claim with the Pennsylvania Department of Labor. HTH, and thank for reading the blog!~ Caitlin

  32. David Says:

    My daughter works at a hospital in Chicago as an ICU nurse. Last night she was asked to work, but refused unless it was overtime. Afterword, I said anything over 40 hours in one week is considered OT. I guess I am wrong, according to her the hospital only pays OT over 80 in a two week period. Is this correct? Are nurses exempt from OT in Illinois? I have been doing some research and the laws seem confusing both Federal and in Illinois. How do you know for sure what applies here or not and what actions if any can she do? Can she lose her job?

  33. Caitlin Says:

    Hi David! Generally you are right — in most industries, both Illinois and federal law require overtime after 40 hours in the payroll period. However, under both state and federal law, different rules apply for nurses.
    Yes, the employer could fire your daughter for refusing to work overtime. Employers can generally make overtime mandatory. Several states have passed laws limiting the amount of overtime that a nurse can be required to work, if her professional opinion is that her exhaustion poses a risk to the patients. Obviously, that was not the case, because your daughter agreed to work, but only at a higher rate. (The employer may decide not to take this action against your daughter, since nurses are in such high demand.) And while we appreciate your fatherly concern, if your daughter is an R.N., she is more than able to manage her own work life. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Caitlin

  34. Nancy Says:

    Does Illinois require overtime pay for more than 8 hours worked in one day?

  35. Caitlin Says:

    Hi Nancy! No. Illinois law requires that employees be paid overtime when working more than 40 hours per payroll week. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Caitlin

  36. Steve Says:

    My girlfriend is a CNA at a nursing home here in illinois. At this “facility” they have a dot every shift, which is the mandated employee who has to stay over if and when the next shift staff calls in.

    Tonite she was the dot, there was no call in and she was allowed to leave (after clocking out). When she got home (20 mile drive) they called her and stated she was required to turn around and come back in for another 8 1/2 hours on top of the 8 she just got done with because a staff member pulled a no call no show.

    Is it legal for them to force her to turn around and come back in without notice after she has physically clocked out per policy?

  37. Caitlin Says:

    Hi Steve! Unfortunately, yes, this is lawful. An employer in almost any industry can make overtime mandatory and can even call the employee back in after they have returned home. (There are a few exceptions such as airline pilots and long-haul truckers, but none that would apply here.)
    At many health care facilities, the employee cannot leave until her relief actually reports to work. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Caitlin

  38. Randy Held Says:

    Can an employer force an employee to work overtime?

  39. Caitlin Says:

    Hi Randy! Yes, that’s basically what the phrase “mandatory overtime” means.
    Actually, we dislike the word “force.” We prefer “require.” It’s a free country, and no one can “force” you to work if you don’t want to. However, if the employer requires that an employee work overtime and the employee refuses, the employer can discipline or fire the employee.
    As noted above, there are a few exceptions. In some states, registered nurses cannot be required to work overtime. There are federal limits on the number of hours employees in some occupations can work, like truck drivers and airline pilots.
    But for general industry, yes, if “the man” says you have to work overtime “or else”…that’s legitimate. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Caitlin

  40. KIM SCHAUB Says:

    Is is legal for an employer to make you work overtime one day then cut the hours the next day to avoid paying time and a half?

  41. Caitlin Says:

    Hi KIM! Yes. If the employee works more than 40 hours in the payroll week, under federal law the employer must pay overtime. However, it is perfectly legitimate for the employer to give the worker time off — in the same payroll week — so that the employee does not have more than 40 hours in the week. This is even good business practice. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Caitlin

  42. Rick Says:

    Hello, I really dont have an issue with mandatory OT…i work OT often…I work on a off shift and now i am starting to hear of mandatory OT at my pharmaceutical company. It was also added that you must work your shift…that i do have an issue with. I am not refusing to work OT but i cant guarantee i can work my shift. During the week when they ask me to stay past my shift they are fine with it not being my shift but ive been there a few years and want to be advised if the law states that i have to work a off shift during mandatory OT. Thanks

  43. Caitlin Says:

    Hi Rick! Yes, mandatory overtime includes being required to stay past your scheduled shift, or past your normal shift as well as coming in on your day off. Basically, mandatory overtime means working whenever the employer tells you to. An employer can terminate any employee who refuses to do so.
    An employer can also discipline or terminate any employee who is absent. This includes employees who are absent just once, as long as the employer enforces this policy consistently for all employees.
    Some employees may be entitled to unpaid leave under FMLA or ADA, and could not be terminated for using it. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Caitlin

  44. shane Says:

    i work in the state of florida at a call center in which they have a point system, as of january they are forcing us to do mandatory overtime 3 hours a week. if you dontwork the overtime you will lose 3 points and if you get down to zero , youre basically fired, is this legal can my job get away with this?

  45. Caitlin Says:

    Hi shane!Yes, any Florida employer can make overtime mandatory. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Caitlin

  46. Eddie Says:

    My wife is a surgical nurse in Illinois (RN) Many times she is forced to work 20 hours a day, without even a lunch or bathroom break, Sometime she may get 3 hours sleep at the hospital, so she can be back at work by 7am. If she would drive home she would lose sleep time. Many weeks a year she workes over 100 hours a week. And it showes up on her pay check. So i know she is not out cheating. Now with Obamas health care law in the making the hospital is cutting back on the nurseing staff and demanding more of them. Is their no laws on this kind of work abuse? What about patient safety? Changing jobs is not an option, to old to relocate, Her company ownes most health care facilities in our area. Would you want her team operating on your loved one?

  47. Caitlin Says:

    Hi Eddie! While we agree with most of your post, we have to point out that mandatory overtime for RNs has been an issue for at least 10 years — well before the Obama healthcare plan. It is far more likely that your wifes employer is simply reacting to reduced revenues.
    Illinois law prohibits hospitals from making RNs work mandatory overtime, except in cases of natural disasters. So your wife should be able to decline overtime without any negative consequences. Several other states including Texas and Massachusetts have similar laws. And we have to disagree…if your wife is young enough to work, she is certainly young enough to relocate. RNs are in high demand everywhere. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Caitlin

  48. Eddie Says:

    Caitlin txs for commenting. Where can that law/info be found in writing? Documented support is needed. My wife use to get paid overtime for anything after an 8hr shift. Her facility is now changing it to overtime begins after 40hrs per week. Meaning she could be mandated to work 10+hrs a day and still be expected to work the full week, not having a choice to take off because of heavy work load and lack of staff, thus mandating overtime.

  49. Judy Buchler Says:

    We have a small construction company with 5 full time employees. Our annual sales average $800,000 yearly. We get jobs that are out of town and may last several weeks at a time. In order to finish the job and get home sooner we offer our employees the chance to work extra hours (over 40) for regular rate ,not time and a half. They have the option to decline. Is this legal as long as they agree to those terms and we do not force them to work over 40 hrs? Should it be in writing for eachoutside job. We only do this out of town.In shop we pay time and a half over 40

  50. Caitlin Says:

    Hi Judy! No, this is absolutely not legal under federal law. The federal FLSA requires that employees be paid overtime when they work more than 40 hours in the payroll week. No employee can legally waive that right. Because your company grosses more than $500,000 per year, you are covered under this federal law. Your choice is to have the employee work only 40 hours per week, or to pay them overtime. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Caitlin

  51. Senators, in a snit, hold a sulkfest | Says:

    [...] » LABOR HOURS: Mandatory Overtime Human Resource Blog [...]

  52. Eddie Says:

    Caitlin after many hours of research I found the law you was talking about, senate bill 201(SB-201) unfortunately the law does not include RN surgical nurses in the mandatory overtime law. My wife last pay check for 2 weeks was 178 mandatory hours. The hospital said they do not work bankers hours. I believe I read under federal and Illinois state labor laws an employer can work an employee 24/6 if they want

  53. Caitlin Says:

    Hi Eddie! That is a problem. Actually Illinois has a One Day Rest in Seven law, but it also does not apply to surgical nurses or “emergencies”. And the hospital gets to decide what is an emergency. Our only suggestion would be for your wife to go into another type of nursing. Sorry. ~ Caitlin

  54. Chris Says:

    Got fired for not working mandatory overtime can I get unemployment

  55. Caitlin Says:

    Hi Chris! That depends on why you did not work the overtime. If it was due to a reason beyond your control (like no childcare) then you may qualify for unemployment. But if it was just because you did not want to work that much…no, you would not qualify. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Caitlin

  56. Lisa Says:

    I work in HR for a manufacturing company in Wisconsin. Our business has significantly increased over the last few months so we have mandated OT. Since we had several layoffs in 2009, most of our employees are an older workforce who have been here for 20+ years. A few of these employees have given me a general medical excuse that simply states “(employee) cannot work more than 40 hours of OT. What action could the company take? Would I have to certify him under FMLA or ADA? Thank you.

  57. Caitlin Says:

    Hi Lisa! Obviously, the long-range solution is to bring some laid-off employees back, even if it is on a temporary basis. Especially since, if we read your post correctly, these employees are routinely working more than 40 hours of overtime per week, meaning more than 80 hours per week total.
    But to answer your question, yes, you probably need to certify these employees for FMLA or ADA. The employer can choose to adjust the schedule without any such certification, but there is no legal mandate that they do so. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Caitlin

  58. Elaine Says:

    I am a temporary emloyee in California. I am a mortgage loan underwriter, which I consider a professional job. Am I required to work mandatory overtime for my client?

  59. Caitlin Says:

    Hi Elaine! Any employee, whether exempt or hourly, can be terminated if he or she refuses to work overtime. Your situation is a little more complicated due to your California contract, but unless that contract specifically forbids overtime, yes, you can be forced to work it. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~Caitlin

  60. Ahmir Says:

    Does a state employeer have to notify an employee of mandatory overtime before the end of a regular work shift.

  61. Caitlin Says:

    Hi Ahmir! Unfortunately no, there is no law that requires this. An employer could follow the employee into the parking lot and call them back to work or even call them at home 4 hours later and require that they come back to work. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Caitlin

  62. angelina elizondo Says:

    Ive worked almosy 16 yeares and now they making manatory on sunday when they feel like cause we got behind so millions of dallores cause the company moved now they using excuse we be hind and even we dint want to move at all so they want more prudution to go out and more money!!! we work 10 hours a day and no damn ac at all me and my material handlers sweat like buckets and work 8 hours saturday !!!!!!!!! then making us come to work on sunday!!!!!!!!!!!!!! we are so tired my feets get swollen to, and cant do a thing adout this company!! yes they wrote me up for not working on that sunday when they made it manatory!!!!! Can they fired me for not working on a sunday!!!!!!!!! If the company cared they will supply fans at the back of the warehouse and they said no fans back their unless we have production!!!!!!!!!!!!

  63. angelina elizondo Says:

    can the company fired us for not working on a sunday even they dont have ac in the company !!! It gets hotter than !07 degreess in that place,

  64. Caitlin Says:

    Hi angelina! The bad news is that the company can make working on Sunday mandatory, and fire any employee who does not work on Sunday.

    The good news is that OSHA worker safety regulations require that the employer provide a safe and healthy work environment. The employer cannot withhold fans due to low productivity. If your feet are swelling, that is probably an early sign of heat stress. You should file a complaint with OSHA at It is illegal for the employer to retaliate against you for filing a complaint. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Caitlin

  65. Caitlin Says:

    Hi again angelina! Yes, the company can fire you for not working on Sunday, even though the workspace is un-airconditioned. However, if it is 107 degrees in the workspace, the company needs to take appropriate measures to protect worker safety. These measures would include providing fans and providing frequent breaks for employees to drink water. Preferably, the breaks would be in an area with air conditioning. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Caitlin

    Read more about the OSHA regulations at:

  66. babygirl Says:

    can my boss fire me for not staying after my scheduled shift…i get really bad headaches and today was one of those days my knew that and gave me a pill but it didnt go away he asked if i could stay i said yes if my headache goes away well it didnt i said i couldnt and he threatend me to fire me if i didnt stay..can he do that?is that legal?

  67. babygirl Says:

    o by the way i live in the state of texas

  68. Caitlin Says:

    Hi babygirl! Yes, it is legal for your boss to fire you if you refuse to work late, even with no notice. He does not even have to ask — he can simply tell you that you must work late, and fire you if you refuse.

    If your headaches are migraines, and the company has 50 or more employees within 75 miles, you may be entitled to take unpaid time off under FMLA. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Caitlin

  69. Caitlin Says:

    Hi again babygirl! Unfortunately, the answer is the same in every state. Your boss can fire you for not working late, even if you have a headache. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Caitlin

  70. Concerned Wife Says:

    My husband works for a company in Iowa that requires alot of mandatory overtime. Phyiscally he is unable to keep the pace of work 7 days a week/60+ hours a week. He is 57 years old and I have suggested he get a medical restriction for overtime. If he does this could he be fired? Should he able for FMLA or just an overtime restriction. Thank you very much.

  71. Caitlin Says:

    Hi Wife! Yes, if your husband gets a medical restriction, he could be fired. Currently, working overtime is part of your husbands job. If he is physically unable to do his job permanently, the employer can fire him.

    Taking FMLA may be an option. An employee can use intermittent FMLA to avoid overtime, working only 40 hours per week. If your husband is otherwise eligible for FMLA, and he can get a doctor to certify his serious health condition and need for time off, this may be an option.

    If your husband has a permanent disability like diabetes, arthritis, etc. he may qualify for a modified work schedule under ADA. However, this is risky. Be aware that if he is unable to perform the primary duties of his job, the employer can let him go rather than grant the accommodation.

    Time off under both FMLA and ADA is unpaid. Your husband might be better off trying to address the underlying health issue so he can work the expected hours, or looking for another job where overtime is discouraged. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Caitlin

  72. aaron Says:

    i work for a “big box”. i am being told “you will work and get overtime (im ok with that) you will cut the overtime before the weekend or you will be wrote up” im forced to cut my overtime and forced when to cut it. is that legal and if not where would i find the law that states it.

  73. Caitlin Says:

    Hi aaron! Yes, this is legal and very, very common in many industries. It is being communicated poorly, but it is legal. Suppose Todd normally works 7 am to 3 pm, Monday through Friday. On Tuesday, due to a heavy workload, Todd is required to work 5 extra hours, until 8 pm. The employer can require that Todd leave 5 hours early later in the week, to avoid paying overtime. This is very, very common in the retail industry and many other industries. It is reasonable for the employer to expect the worker to reduce his hours the rest of the week, to compensate for working later on Tuesday. As long as the employee ends up with 40 hours or less for the payroll week, he is not entitled to overtime. (A few states such as California require that employees be paid overtime when they work more thanb 8 hours per day, but most do not.) HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Caitlin

  74. Steve Says:

    I got fired once from a job because they called my house and left a message for me to come in, I did not get the message and was subsequently fired (this was fifteen years ago and I was a bad employee who needed firing anyway, not trying to fight the issue) Does an employer have to make direct contact with an employee when asking them to come in or altering their shift scheduled start time. Im in illinois.

  75. Caitlin Says:

    Hi Steve! Illinois has a different law than most states on this issue. In Illinois, the employer must post a written schedule by Sunday, for the following week. Employees must be informed of any changes to the written schedule. The statute does not specifically say how the employee must be contacted. Frankly, with the prevelance of cell phones today, we do not see how this would be a problem. The employer could leave a message on the employees cell phone. An employee can be required to maintain a cell phone or other way to be contacted by the employer. Having said that, we will say that a reasonable employer does not fire an employee simply because a relative or roommate forgot to deliver a message — unless, as you note, the employee needs to be fired anyway. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Caitlin

  76. Joe Says:

    Dose the state of Pennsylvania have a law reguarding the maximum number of hours you can be force to work in a weeks time.

  77. Caitlin Says:

    Hi Joe! No, like most states Pennsylvania does not have any such law. An hourly employee can be required to work any number of hours, even 100+ hours per week, as long as the employer pays overtime after 40 hours. A salaried exempt employee can be required to work any number of hours, and no overtime is required. Federal regulations limit the number of hours in a few professions, like interstate truckers, airline pilots and air traffice controllers, for reasons of public safety. However, there is no federal or state limit on hours for employees in general industry. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Caitlin

  78. Manuel J. Says:

    Some states limit the number of hours that an employee can be required to work, but only a handful, and usually under very specialized circumstances. For example, in Florida, an employee who performs manual labor may not be required to work over 8 hours per day. However, all other employees can. What are the “specialized circumstances”?

  79. Caitlin Says:

    Hi Manuel! The “special circumstances” differ from state to state. Many states limit the hours of work for youths under 16. Some states limit hours of work in certain occupations, such as truck driving or factory work. Federal law limits the hours of work for truck drivers, airline pilots and air traffic controllers. Do you have a question about a specific state and occupation? If so, we will try to answer it. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Caitlin

  80. John Says:

    If you are mandated to work overtime. Let say you work 3-11 and was mandated to work 11-7 next shift. But the next day, the supervisor gives you the day off. Is it considered as a mandate?

  81. Raquel Says:

    Are warehouse workers that load and unload trailers considered to be Manual labor workers? If so are they allowed to be forced to work more than 8 hours day in the State of Florida?

  82. Rachel Says:

    Can employees in Florida that are not manual laborer, such as data entry or clerical positions be forced to work 23/7. An HR rep told me she has the right to make her employees do. At what point does the law protect employees in Florida?

  83. Decko Little Says:

    what if you dont work overtime, can they count it as an Absent?

  84. marian Says:

    can a rn in ill legally work 3 8 hour shifts in a row ?

  85. hrlady Says:

    Hi Decko Little,

    Absent means missing in general terms. I would check with your employer on their rules for overtime, or attendance. If mandatory overtime is required and you do not show up, then probably yes, you would be absent from mandatory overtime.

    Thanks for reading the blog.

  86. chris Says:

    My mother works at a printing company in missouri. they print the food packages that cheese and other food items that are put in.. the problem is.. they used to have 12 hour shifts.. but made everyone go back to 8 hours and now they are doing overtime. 12 hour days 6 days a week.. normally that is not so bad but my mother told me the 2 airconditioners for the building have not worked for the last 2 months. and aparently they are refusing to fix them.its been over 2 months> the heat we have had this year is horrid.. constantly tripple digits and humidity to boot. she says she has sweat dripping down her. as well as into her eyes and she said she would not be suprised if any gets on the packaging. is there a law in missouri that would force the company to repair the airconditioners that are there to give the workers better work conditions?

  87. Tracy Says:

    Can a CNA in NC be fired for refusing to work a 2nd 8 hour shift after they have already worked their shift because a CNA from the next shift regularly does not show up for work?

  88. hrlady Says:

    Hi Tracy,

    In North Carolina, as well as the Federal Fair Labor Standard Act (FLSA),the hours an employee age 18 years of age or older can work is not restricted. An employee can be required to work any number of hours in a day, week, or number of days in a row. The decision regarding number of hours worked is left entirely up to an employer.

    Also, North Carolina is an “Employment-at-Will” state meaning an employer can discharge an employee, at the will of the employer, for any reason or no reason at all.

    Therefore, yes an employee can be terminated if the employer requests the employee to work and they do not show up for the additional shift.

    Thank you for reading the

  89. tialisa vinyard Says:

    My employer expects me to work overtime one day and then expects me to take off the ot hours worked later in the week to avoid paying the overtime pay. Is this legal in illinois?

  90. hrlady Says:

    Hi Tialisa,

    It is legal for your employer to change your working hours or days. It appears that your employer needs you to work, which normally would be considered overtime if you worked the additional day. Changing your work days or hours is not illegal.

    It would be illegal if your employer did not have you change your days, and you worked over 40 hours, and they did not pay you overtime.

  91. Mr. R Says:

    I have an employee that wants to cover his first shift that begins @ 5am and ends @2pm with an hour lunch and come back second shift that begins @ 6pm to 3am with a one hour lunch. Would this be considered 2 seperate shifts and overtime would be tallied seperate as two different employees or would his time be accumulated and overtime occur after he reached 40 hrs adding both shifts? (Texas)

  92. hrlady Says:

    Hi Mr. R,

    Texas does not have any overtime pay rules therefore Federal overtime rules apply. The Federal rule states that overtime pay for hours worked in excess of 40 hours in a workweek must be paid at time and one half the employee’s regular rate of pay.

    You must treat this employee as one employee and pay all hours worked over 40 hours as overtime paying at time and one half. The calculation would be total all hours (for both shifts) and all hours over 40 must be paid at time and one-half.

    Thank you for reading the

  93. Kimberly Says:

    My husband works as a security guard in Arkansas. They have been having scheduling problems from the get go. (A new company just took over the security contract) I know mandatory overtime is legal and AR is an “at will” employment state, but is it legal to have people pulling 7-18 days straight and scheduling 24 hours on the job in a 32 hour period? He would work 8 hrs then turn around and work 16 more.

  94. hrlady Says:

    Hi Kimberly,

    The Wage and Hours Division of the U.S. Department of Labor does not limit the number of hours per day or per week that employees age 16 years and older can be required to work.

    Federal law will prevail because Arkansas law is silent on the number of hours over 17 years of age.

    Thank you for reading the

  95. misty Says:

    i keep reading that an employer can enforce mandatory overtime, without notice. is there any exceptions if the employee is the (and only) primary care for a child on the day the mandatory is required? can an employer make someone have to find, and possibly pay for, childcare in order to fulfill the mandatory overtime? (texas) thank you.

  96. hrlady Says:

    Hi Misty,

    Texas does not have any rules that require an employer to notify an employee in advance of required overtime. So yes, an employer in Texas can require overtime at any time, without notice, as long as they pay require overtime at time and one-half.

    Thank you for reading the

  97. Vcitor Manzo Says:

    I am limited to work 999 hours a year of part time employment for the city, if i should go over 999 hours i am to be enrolled into PERS, If i am asked to work over 999 through a temp agencyfor the same city employer, could i legally demand to be enrolled into PERS ?

  98. Vcitor Manzo Says:

    Sorry forgot to mention that i live in the state of California.

  99. hrlady Says:

    Hi Vcitor,

    Regarding your question, you should contact the CalPERS office to discuss your situation.

    Thank you for reading the

  100. hrlady Says:

    Hi Vcitor,

    Regarding your question, you should contact the CalPERS office to discuss your situation.

    Thank you for reading the

  101. desiree Says:

    hi i work in michigan at an assisted living facility for memory care. we have here what is called circles which mean if someone call in or is coming late you are mandated to stay.. that is completley understandable but on days that the circle person is not there they put names in a hat and even if you have things to do if you dont stay thats job abandonment and you will be either wrote up or fired. is this legal?

  102. Tim Says:

    Hello! The wife was forced mandatory overtime at the hospital in South Carolina recently. She is 5 months pregnant and a high risk pregnancy. She recently acquired a doctors note not to work overtime due to the pregnancy. The hospital is now stating she will have to use FMLA each overtime day she does not work. Can they force her to use FMLA on the overtime days?


  103. hrlady Says:

    Hi Desire,

    Companies handle overtime situations in different ways. Some companies may select a program, to cover absent employees, by using seniority, others by the last absent employee covering this employee. The circle program and pulling a name was probably designed to be fair to all employees. Employees do not necessary like mandatory overtime and will probably not like any system selected by the company to select an employee required to do overtime.

    An employer can require an employee to work overtime, so yes this is legal. If you have a suggestion for a better method of selecting who is required to work overtime you can make that suggestion to the Human Resource department.

    Thank you for reading the!

  104. hrlady Says:

    Hi Tim,

    The entitlement your wife receives under FMLA is 12 weeks of unpaid leave for a serious medical condition, which includes pregnancy. The 12 weeks is applied for anytime off prior to or after the birth of a child, due to her condition.

    If the hospital requires all employees to work overtime, then that is part of her normal job responsibilities. The hospital must follow all restrictions placed on your wife, by her doctor. Therefore, they must apply all time used (required overtime), toward her 12 weeks unpaid FMLA.

    Thank you for reading the

  105. Jonnie Says:

    I work for a trucking company in michigan I am not a driver but one of the warehouse employees, should we get overtime pay after 40 hours or no!? And if so how far back can I go to get my overtime for the last two years? Thank you so much

  106. hrlady Says:

    Hi Jonnie,

    Some employees are exempt from overtime based on the work they perform, according to U.S. Department of Labor. The following is a list of some positions published by the U.S. Department of Labor that are exempt from overtime.
    – Commissioned employee of retail or service establishments, auto, trailer, farm implement, boat, or aircraft sales workers; or parts-clerks and mechanics servicing auto, trucks, or farm implements, who are employed by non-manufacturing establishment primarily engaged in selling these items to purchasers.
    – Employers of railroads and air carriers, taxi drivers, certain employees of motor carriers.
    You employer must submit information to the government each year and is most likely in compliance with all overtime provisions.
    You can always speak to your Human Resource Department for additional clarification, however it does not appear you are entitled to overtime.

    Thank you for reading the

  107. Kristina Says:

    Is there a law in the state of Kentucky that protects manual labor employees from working a split shift? For instance, the employee works from 8am to 5pm, then back to work at 8pm for an additional eight hours? Is there an OSHA requirement for companies to give employees a certain number of hours off to maintain sleep if they are working around heavy machinery? Thank you.

  108. hrlady Says:

    Hi Kristina,
    There is no limit to the number of hours an adult employee can work either by Kentucky law or the federal Occupational Safety & Health Act. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration encourages employers to limit the use of extended shifts (8 hours or more) and increased number of working days due to the potential for worker fatigue, stress and lack of concentration. OSHA also warns that such health effects lead to an increased risk of operator error, injuries and/or accidents.

  109. Leland Says:

    is it lawful for employers to authorize double shifts to their employers in missouri?

    Also, do employees have the right to choose if they want to work double shifts in missouri?

  110. hrlady Says:

    Hi Leland,
    There is no regulation in Missouri that prohibits employers from requiring employees to work mandatory overtime, i.e. double shifts. Missouri is an at will employment state. Meaning, employees have the right to refuse to work a double shift just like an employer has the right to terminate an employee for refusing to work a double shift.

  111. mike Says:

    In Missouri, is an employee required to stay past their scheduled end of shift? If so, how much notice must they be given to the employee to do so? Also, how long in advance must an employer notify an employee of a scheduled shift?

  112. hrlady Says:

    Hi Mike, There is no minimum or maximum number of hours an employee may be scheduled or asked to work in Missouri. Thus, an employee may be required to stay past the end of their scheduled shift with no notice. Since Missouri is an at-will employment state, just like most states, absent a collective bargaining agreement or employment contract stating otherwise, an employer is permitted to terminate an employee for refusing to work extra hours just like an employee is able to refuse to work the extra hours by resigning. Also, Missouri employers are subject to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Under the FLSA, non-exempt employees must be paid for every hour worked and receive overtime pay for hours worked over 40 in a workweek at a rate not less than time and one-half their regular rates of pay.

  113. Rachel Says:

    In Alabama is it legal for a company to make an employee work 7 days a week 12 hours a day for weeks at a time?

  114. hrlady Says:

    Hi Rachel,
    Alabama refers to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) for wage and hour laws. There is no limit to the number of hours in a day or days in a week that an adult employee can work under the FLSA. Keep in mind, Alabama is an at-will employment state. Meaning, absent a collective bargaining agreement or employment contract stating otherwise, either the employee or employer can terminate the employment relationship at any time with or without cause. So, an employer could terminate an employee for not working 7 days a week just like an employee can quit for not wanting to work 7 days a week.

  115. Eleanor Says:

    Can someone inform me on how is it possible for an employer require that an employee work more than 12 hrs a day. When did this come into affect (what year) and is this including Michigan?

    Thank you,

  116. Eleanor Says:

    what is the maximum number of hours can an employer force an employee to work under Michigan State Law within a 24 hr period?

    Thank You,


  117. hrlady Says:

    Hi Eleanor, There is neither federal nor Michigan state law that limits the number of hours an employer can require an adult employee to work in a single workday. Though not wise or advisable, an employer could require an adult employee to work 24 hours. More information can be found on the website for the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs,,4601,7-154-11407_32352-42008–,00.html.

  118. Bob Martin Says:

    In the state of Ohio, how long can an employer work an employee without a day off?

  119. hrlady Says:

    Hi Bob, There is neither Ohio nor federal law that limits how many days of the week or hours in a day an employee can work.

  120. JMitch Says:

    In PA, can you follow the CA rule of paying overtime after 8 hours within the day rather than the PA rule of after 40 hours in a week?

  121. hrlady Says:

    PA’s overtime laws mirror the FLSA which require employers to pay overtime for any hours worked over 40 in a workweek. If an employer wanted to offer employees more than what state or federal law requires, then doing so would just be an added benefit to employees.

  122. WK Lambert Says:

    Does Illinois have a limit on the amount of hours an employer can require the employee to work in a workday? Does Illinois require there be specific amount of time off between shifts worked?

  123. hrlady Says:

    Illinois has adopted a One Day Rest in Seven Act (ODRISA). Under the law, employers must allow for at least 24 hours of rest in every calendar week. A calendar week is defined as seven consecutive 24 hour periods starting at 12:01 a.m. Sunday morning and ending at midnight the following Saturday. But, the act doesn’t impose restrictions on the number of working hours in a single day. Of course, this doesn’t mean an employee should work 24 hours straight. Employers must consider the type of duties performed and any safety risks when employees work longer shifts. And, under Illinois law, employers must provide a meal period of at least 20 minutes to employees work 7 ½ continuous hours.
    HTH! Sorry for the delayed response!

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