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Overtime Question for WA State

Hello, I am an employer, pay employees hourly, pay overtime over 40 hours a week, pay taxes, health insurance and vacation as well. We are a small company with just four or five employees. This question involves if an employee screws something up when we are under deadline and I ask them to work more than 40 hours in a week to correct it or make up for the work they should have done if they did not make this mistake. Let’s say I would want 20 hours of time, which would be half the time that their mistake consumed (when they should have been doing something else). I would pay them for the extra time and would spread the time out over a month as that would seem fair to me. 1) Would I have to pay overtime to the employee? 2) Could I ask (not demand) that the employee work extra time with regular pay and not be breaking the law? 3) If over the last X months the employee worked 38 hours a week, could I go backwards in time and ask them to make up that time because of their faux pas?

Overtime regulations are established under both Washington state law and federal law, specifically the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Federal law actually provides more protections to employees than state law; thus, the federal FLSA applies.

Under the FLSA, non-exempt employees (most hourly paid employees) must be paid for all hours worked and are subject to overtime and minimum wage requirements. A non-exempt employee must receive time and one half their regular rate of pay for all hours worked over 40 in a given workweek.

Overtime wages cannot be forfeited or deferred, even at the employee’s request. Furthermore, compensatory time, even at the employee’s request, is not permitted in the private sector.

So, regardless of the reason an employee must work additional hours, even if doing so is because the employee made a mistake, all hours worked in the established workweek must be compensated on the regularly scheduled pay day. This includes any overtime wages earned during the workweek.

If you’ve noticed the employee has only worked 38 hours a week over the last few weeks (or any time period), you may require the employee to make up any time missed. Keep in mind, any “make-up” hours would be considered hours worked in the current workweek. It would be unlawful to have an employee work an extra 2 hours a week now but add those hours to a past workweek. Such behavior is considered a willful violation of the FLSA, meaning a hefty fine.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 12th, 2016 at 1:50 pm and is filed under
Compensation, Labor Laws.
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