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Who is Entitled to Overtime Pay?

Q:   How do I know if I am entitled to overtime pay in Ohio?
A:
   In Ohio, and throughout the United States, with only some exceptions, overtime (“time and one-half”) must be paid to employees who  work more than 40 hours a week.  According to the Department of Labor, more than 130 million American workers are entitled to overtime pay under the laws of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). 

An employee can be covered by the FLSA through “enterprise coverage” or “individual coverage.”  Most employees qualify for “individual coverage” as long as the work of the individual or the “work” of the organization regularly involves commerce between states, or handling, selling, or otherwise working on goods or materials that have been moved in or produced by such commerce.  This is known as “interstate commerce” and it affects nearly every business in the United States. 

The FLSA also covers certain businesses or enterprises.  This is known as “enterprise coverage.”  To be covered under FLSA, the business or enterprise must: (a) be a government agency or a hospital or other business that provides medical or nursing care; (b) have at least two employees; and (c) have an annual sales volume of at least $500,000.   Typically, every government agency and health care institution is covered by the FLSA.
 
Finally, many employees operate under the wrong impression that, if they receive a salary or have the word “supervisor” in their job title, they are not entitled to overtime pay.  In fact, many salaried employees, and even those with “supervisor” titles may be entitled to receive overtime pay.

Q:   Am I entitled to time and one-half pay if I travel?
A:
   Time you spend traveling on company business during normal work hours is considered “compensable” (paid) work time.  Your employer does not have to pay, however, for time you spend in home-to-work travel or for activities you may perform (such as running a personal errand on the way to work) that are incidental to your commute. 
 
Further, whether or not an employee drives a company-owned vehicle makes little difference.  Assuming the employee’s travel is within “normal” commuting range of the employer’s business and the vehicle’s use is covered by an employer/employee agreement, the employer does not have to pay for these commuting hours because the hours generally are not considered to be “hours worked.” 

Finally, time spent working while traveling can be compensated.  Travel on the weekends is also compensable if the employee’s typical work week is Monday through Friday.  Also, time spent at a seminar or training, including time spent traveling to seminars and training, is typically compensable.

Q:   Am I entitled to overtime if I am on call or waiting at home at night for my employer to call?
A:
   Yes; you are entitled to overtime pay when your employer requires you to wait at home or at the worksite to respond to calls in person, or through a telephone or pager.  You are entitled to be compensated for time spent responding to calls, including time spent at home on the telephone or at your computer responding to calls or e-mail.
 
There is no clear-cut rule, however, about whether you can be compensated for time waiting for work or for work instructions.  Courts look at the following factors to decide if such time should be compensated, including: (a) the average number of calls you responded to during the on-call period; (b) the required response time, such as the amount of time you must be at the work site after being called in; (c) whether you are subject to discipline for missing or being late to a call-back; (d) the extent to which you are able to engage in other activities while on call; (e) the nature of your occupation.

Q: Am I entitled to overtime if I am required to go to work early or have to wait at work before performing my job duties?
A:
   You are entitled to compensation for time spent waiting while on duty, particularly if it is on the employer’s premises, is unpredictable and/or is or a relatively short duration.  If you must be at your work 15 minutes early (for example), you are entitled to compensation for that 15 minutes.
 
In addition, “waiting” is what certain employees are hired to do.  For example, fire fighters, emergency workers, as well as some truck drivers and repair service people are hired to be on hand until their services are needed.  These individuals are also entitled to overtime pay.

2/23/2010

Law You Can Use is a weekly consumer legal information column provided by the Ohio State Bar Association.  This article was prepared by David A. Young, the principal of the Cleveland law firm, The Law Offices of David A Young, LLC, a law firm representing employees in overtime and discharge cases.

Articles appearing in this column are intended to provide broad, general information about the law. Before applying this information to a specific legal problem, readers are urged to seek advice from an attorney.

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