Employment Law Blog

News, trends and analysis in employment law and HR

Sep 09, 2013

Can employees waive their wage and hour rights?

Q&AWage and Hour 

Q: Our employees would like to work on Saturdays, to get a jump start on production and make extra money, but we can’t afford to pay them overtime. If they want to work at their straight time rate for hours over 40 in the week, can we let them?

A: No. Paying overtime for hours worked over 40 in a workweek is not optional, and neither employers nor the employees can waive their rights to receive overtime pay. Employment laws state that even if the employees insist on working extra hours at straight time pay, or sign a statement waiving their overtime rights, you cannot allow them to do so. One employer was recently stung by this idea; they were ordered to pay over $50,000 in back wages and damages after employees signed letters of agreement stating that they’d be paid straight time for all hours worked, including overtime. As the local Department of Labor director stated in its action against the company, “employees cannot agree to waive their rights under the law,” and there are no exceptions when it comes to overtime. Be sure to consult a Vigilant employment specialist with any labor or employment law compliance questions.

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