Common Overtime Violations Federal Workers Can Experience

It is not usual for employers to ask employees to stay over a few extra hours, but it is illegal to have employees work without giving them their due pay. The author outlines some ways federal employees can ensure they are not subjected to failing to be compensated for overtime work when they are legally entitled to it.

It is not usual for employers to ask employees to stay over a few extra hours, but it is illegal to have employees work without giving them their due pay. states that The Fair Labor Standards Act, or (FLSA) was instituted to protect hourly and low income employees. The act also prohibits companies from demanding workers to work more than forty hours in one workweek unless they are compensated at the overtime rate.

Federal Overtime Pay Is the Law

Federal employees are often the target of illegal and misclassification when it comes to calculating overtime. As required by the federal government, federal employees are entitled to overtime pay under the FLSA or under Title 5, and all businesses must comply with state and federal regulations.

The rules governing federal employee overtime were revised August 23, 2004. These rules hold employers accountable for applying the proper state and federal overtime rules as they apply to specific categories of employees.

Whether intentionally or not, federal agencies often and illegally misclassify workers, which makes them ineligible or exempt from overtime pay. Just like regular employees, employees holding federal government jobs are entitled to overtime pay, and one-and-a-half times their original set pay, when their regularly accumulated work hours exceed 40 hours per week.

Overtime Calculations

One dramatic difference agencies, companies, businesses, and organizations make when they calculate federal employees’ regular rate of pay is the way they calculate overtime pay.

For most federal employees, overtime pay is calculated when an employee works more than 8 hours per day and not in excess of 40 hours per week. There is a legal and complex system employers use to calculate regular rate and overtime pay.

However, federal workers should not rely on their organization to properly calculate their overtime or place them in the right classification group.

Instead, workers can protect their own rights by taking affirmative action. One affirmative action movement is to access the benefits of the FLSA law. Some organizations intentionally misclassify federal employees in hopes of escaping their responsibility to pay overtime rates. These organizations are in violation of their workers’ rights and federal law regulations.

Employees Protecting Themselves

Federal employees can protect themselves through:

  • Education – Educate yourself with federal law policies as it applies to your job. Know your classification status and notify the human resources department of any errors you find. If human resources is not helpful in this area, you can contact the U.S. Department of Labor on your own behalf.
  • Union Membership – Most companies dislike unions, saying they bring a division on the job. However, unions are in place to protect the rights of workers from unfair job practices. Becoming a member of a union ensures employees that their complaints are noted and will be heard.
  • Pursue legal representation – Some companies are persistent in their efforts not to pay overtime, even when they knowingly do so. The law is clear on its interpretation of overtime rates when it comes to federal employees. When companies refuse to follow the law, the next course of action is to obtain legal assistance.

Unfair Labor Practice

Federal employees are protected under the Federal Service Labor-Management Regulations Statute. This statue of the law protects federal workers’ rights to participate in labor meetings, bargain as a whole (group), and to organize. Unfair Labor Practice or ULP is conduct standards used by unions or agencies that violate workers’ rights under the federal law.

The majority of government agencies violating federal employees’ rights do so by automatically putting all employees in an exempted classification category, which prohibits the employees from receiving overtime pay, based on their position or job requirements. This exemption is illegal and not in compliance with federal labor regulations. Although some federal workers are not eligible for overtime pay under the FLSA, they are entitled to overtime pay under Title 5.

Before accepting federal employment, employees should get verification of their classification, pay rate, and overtime entitlement under the statute of the law. This information should be made available prior to accepting employment, or immediately upon request. Most federal employees might be eligible for weekend premium pay if a shift falls on a weekend, such as Sunday. Other pay includes Holiday, shift differential, and hazardous duty pay.

Tim Becker is a partner at Minneapolis’ Johnson // Becker PLLC and is the lead sponsor of He has over 20 years of trial experience and has proven himself to be a tireless advocate for worker rights. Becker is committed to providing his clients effective and aggressive legal representation.