CAN CONNECTICUT EMPLOYERS REQUIRE EMPLOYEES TO WORK OVERTIME?
An employer may require employees to work more than 40 hours in one calendar week as long as the employer pays the employee overtime compensation (1 ½ times the employee’s regular rate) for all hours worked over 40. It does not matter if the days on which the hours are worked are Saturdays, Sundays or holidays. Notably, an employer may require an employee to work more than 8 hours in one day without being obligated to pay overtime compensation; overtime compensation is only required when an employee works more than 40 hours in a week.
There is a limitation on how much overtime an employer may require. State law prohibits an employer from requiring an employee to work more than 6 days in one calendar week. The employer also cannot discipline an employee for such refusal. However, if the employee voluntarily works more than 6 days in one week, then there is no violation. What is important is that the employee is given an opportunity for a day off. If the employee declines the opportunity, there is no violation.
There are some complicated areas of overtime law that can cause even well-intentioned employers problems, such as properly classifying employees as either exempt (not legally entitled to overtime compensation) or non-exempt (legally entitled to overtime compensation). Whether an employee is exempt or non-exempt depends on the employee’s job duties and salary. In addition, the terms of a collective bargaining agreement or an individual employment agreement may provide different terms with respect to employer’s overtime obligations. In no event, however, can such agreements relieve an employer from its duty to pay overtime compensation.
Properly classifying and compensating employees is extremely important. Failure to do so can result in an employer being ordered to pay twice the amount of compensation owed (state law provides for “double damages” in wage and hour violation cases), as well as attorney’s fees and costs, to the employee or employees bringing the action. Employers should review their policies and practices to ensure they are in compliance with state and federal overtime laws, and employees should educate themselves on their rights under those same laws.