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When do you have to pay your employees overtime wages?

Employers all over New York often find themselves confused by wage rules. It can sometimes seem hard to know what obligations you actually have. Unfortunately, if you make a mistake with the wages of your staff members, you could leave yourself vulnerable to expensive legal action by your workers.

Your best option, in most cases, will be taking assertive steps to ensure that you comply with both state and federal overtime regulations.

Is your worker paid hourly or on salary?

It is usually straightforward to determine whether someone is a salaried employee or an hourly worker. Salaried employees typically earn the same wage regardless of how many hours they work each week.

Hourly workers have a more variable schedule and may not make the same wage from week to week depending on how many hours they work. In fact, some workers who might otherwise not receive overtime under federal law can under New York law. These workers will receive 150% of the state minimum wage for overtime, not 150% of their hourly wage.

Even your nanny can get overtime pay

Some people, such as those who hire in-home childcare, cleaning support or nannies may not think of themselves as employers. However, they have employment obligations to their staff. Any hourly worker, including childcare workers, should receive overtime pay.

However, there is a slightly higher limit for standard paid hours for residential employees. They may work 44 hours a week before collecting overtime pay, although their employer can choose to pay them overtime pay for hours over 40 at their own discretion. Workers in other industries receive overtime pay after 40 hours in a given pay cycle.

You can't manipulate your pay cycle to avoid overtime

It is possible to occasionally change when you start and end the pay cycle for your workers. However, you should have a standard schedule that allows staff to understand when their workweek starts and ends and, therefore, when they accrue overtime wages. Repeatedly changing the day when the pay cycle starts or ends to avoid overtime obligations could get you into legal trouble as an employer.

Most workers should receive 150% of their standard wage

Overtime pay should be at least one-and-a-half times what the worker typically makes per hour. Some employers choose to incentivize overtime by offering double time on high demand days or for workers who work more than 50 hours a week.

Instead of viewing overtime as a scourge, you could consider it a way to maximize the work you get out of the staff that you have without needing to hire or train someone new. If you have questions about how to properly comply with overtime laws, consider speaking with an experienced New York employment law attorney before any issues arise.

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