When Must Employers Pay Overtime?

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An employee working overtime.The federal government has rules in place that govern employer relationships with their employees. This federal law is called the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and has been in effect in the United States since 1938. And while this law governs most businesses, the Maryland legislature has also enacted its own set of labor laws. There is an easy way to understand how these two sets of rules interact. Think of the FLSA as outlining the basic fundamental rights of employees throughout our country. It is the bare minimum or “bottom line,” so to speak.

Then, each state can enact its own laws that increase employee protections and rights. Along with many other states, Maryland has enacted its own set of labor laws designed to give employees additional rights pertaining to hours, wages, and overtime. The Maryland Code Section 3-415 lays out state rules governing how employers must handle overtime pay.

Overtime Pay in Maryland

Overtime laws in Maryland are very similar and consistent with FLSA requirements. In general, employees who work over 40 hours in a single workweek are entitled to receive “time and a half” or 1.5 times their standard wage for those additional hours. It is important to note that this rule applies only to weekly hours. If you work over eight hours in one day, you are not entitled to overtime for that day—unless it puts your total weekly tally above 40 hours.

On its face, this seems like a straightforward and simple rule. However, there are some exemptions or exceptions to this rule that are worth noting.

Exemptions to the Overtime Rule

Maryland has adopted federal rules as they relate to some categories of employees and overtime-exempt status. The following applies to overtime laws:

  • Executive exemption,
  • Administrative exemption, and
  • Professional exemption.

Employees who receive a salary and are classified as having an executive, administrative, or professional role are exempt from mandatory overtime pay, regardless of how many hours they work in a week. In other words, if you are salaried and fall into one of these categories, you are not entitled to overtime pay. But some employers who seek to “cheat the system” attempt to bestow these titles on employees who do not properly fall under these designations. Let’s look at what the law says about the duties one must have on the job to become exempt from overtime pay.

Executive Exemption

For this overtime exemption to be appropriate, several criteria must be met:

  • The employee gets a salary as opposed to an hourly wage;
  • They make a minimum of $684 a week or $35,568 annually;
  • Their primary purpose is managerial in nature;
  • They are responsible for overseeing and guiding the work of two or more other employees;
  • They hire and fire employees or have input regarding who is hired or fired; and
  • Their opinions regarding promotions carry significant weight.

So even if your employer refers to your position as an “executive” one, your duties must align with the above criteria for the purposes of overtime pay. If they do not and you work over 40 hours per week, you may be entitled to overtime pay. Consulting with an experienced employment matters legal practitioner will help you determine if it is time to have a conversation with your employer.

Administrative Exemption

For the purposes of overtime pay, you are an administrative employee if:

  • You work on salary;
  • Your salary is at least $684 per week or $35,568 annually;
  • You do not perform manual labor;
  • You perform office duties that assist in the management or general operations of the enterprise; and
  • You are responsible for exercising discretion and good judgment in the handling of significant business matters.

Again, suppose your employer has told you that you do not qualify for overtime because you are an administrative employee but your duties do not match those described above. In that case, you may want to seek the help of a labor matters lawyer.

Professional Exemption

Professional employees must also work on salary and make at least $684 per week, or $35,568 annually. But the main difference with this category is that it requires the individual to have highly specialized knowledge in a particular area of study. These positions typically require extensive, prolonged schooling, intensive course work, and a degree of higher education surpassing a bachelor’s degree. This category generally includes professions such as doctors, lawyers, CPAs, and the like. Alternatively, if your expertise is in a recognized artistic field, you can be considered a professional if your job requires highly specialized creativity, imagination, inventions, or talent.

More Exemptions to Overtime Pay in Maryland

Overtime labor law in a law firm.Other categories of workers can also be exempt from overtime pay. In Maryland, if you work at a place that provides on-premises healthcare, you must work 48 hours before overtime kicks in. This exemption does not apply to hospitals but to long-term care facilities like nursing homes. If you work in a bowling alley, you must also hit the 48-hour mark before qualifying for overtime. Agricultural workers must put in 60 hours before their employers are required to pay overtime. And the following types of employees are also exempt from overtime:

  • Employees of amusement or recreational businesses that operate seven months or less each year;
  • Employees of the food service industry whose employer grosses less than $250,000 per year;
  • Movie theater employees;
  • Motel or hotel employees;
  • Gas station employees;
  • Employees of food processing establishments;
  • Non-administrative employees of summer camps;
  • Outside salespeople;
  • Independent contractors;
  • Employees less than 16 years old who work less than 20 hours per week; and
  • Workers over the age of 62 who work less than 25 hours per week.

This list is thorough but not exhaustive. Those exempt from Maryland overtime rules on this list may nevertheless qualify for overtime under the FLSA, depending on their circumstances. Overtime law can be tricky. That is why talking to an experienced lawyer in overtime pay may be the best move you can make if you are uncertain about your qualifications for overtime pay.

We Can Help

The attorneys at the Smithey Law Group are experienced and knowledgeable in employment law. It is our job to answer your questions regarding your eligibility for overtime pay when you are working hard and devoting over 40 hours a week to your employer. And if you are an employer who is uncertain as to whether you should pay certain employees overtime, then you should contact us right away. The state can issue an employer penalty for not paying overtime when required by law. Call us at 410-919-2990 or contact us online today.

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Joyce Smithey, a seasoned employment and labor law attorney, has over 22 years of experience representing both employers and employees in Maryland and D.C. Her practice, rooted in a deep understanding of employment law, spans administrative hearings to federal litigation. Joyce's approach is comprehensive, focusing on protecting client interests while ensuring legal compliance. A Harvard graduate, her career began in Fortune 500 companies, transitioning to law after a degree from Boston University School of Law. Joyce's expertise is recognized by numerous awards, including Maryland’s Top 100 Women. At Smithey Law Group LLC, which she founded in 2018, Joyce continues to champion employment rights, drawing on her rich background in law and business.

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