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Know Your Rights: Laws About Overtime

The law ensures that you are fairly compensated for overtime work.

The national Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is the law that protects employees from overtime abuse and ensures that eligible employees are paid for all the work they perform.

Employees covered by the FLSA (bus drivers, cafeteria staff, teacher assistants, secretaries, and other similar employees) must receive overtime compensation for any hours worked over 40 in a workweek. Employees in salaried, administrative or executive positions usually do not qualify for overtime pay.  Overtime pay is at a minimum of 1.5 of their regular pay.

Overtime vs. Compensatory Time

Check your local school district’s policies because many school districts opt to provide compensatory time rather than overtime pay. Comp time can be accrued and used in place of your state personal leave or local sick leave. However, most districts state that comp time not used by a specific time will be converted to overtime pay.

Working off the Clock

UEA’s best advice is never to work off the clock. You deserve to be paid for all the hours you work. Supervisors should never pressure you to work off the clock, and you should not take work home or “clock out” and continue to work.

Additionally, you should always get approval from your supervisor before you do overtime work.

However, it is against the law for an employer to force an employee to agree that they will not be paid for overtime or that they will only work 40 hours a week. If you have worked the hours, then you are entitled to payment, even if you did not get the required pre-authorization. However, this does not prevent an employer from disciplining you for failure to follow district procedures.

Nursing Mothers

This provision applies only to hourly or non-exempt employees.  FLSA requires employers to provide a “reasonable break time for an employees to express breast milk for her nursing child for 1 year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express milk.”  Employers are also required to provide a location that is not a restroom and is free from intrusion from others and that can be used by the employee to express milk.  Your employer is not required to pay for any nursing breaks you take. 


Meal and Rest Breaks

FLSA does not require employers to provide rest or meal breaks to employees.  Most school districts do make provisions for lunch and rest breaks even though they are not required to do so by law.  Check your employee handbook.  Rest periods of up to 20 minutes must be counted as hours worked.  Coffee breaks or time for snacks are rest periods, not meal periods.

Lunch breaks of 30 minutes or more are not counted as work hours if the employee is completely relieved from duty.  The employee is not relieved from duty if the employee is required to perform any duties while eating. 

Compliance Assistance

If you have any questions or concerns about whether your rights under FLSA have been violated, don’t hesitate to contact the UEA office at 817-572-1082.  You may also contact the U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division at (866) 427-9243. 

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inClass News

inClass News

inClass News is the weekly newsletter of United Educators Association. If you have ideas or requests for content that you would like to see, please email webmaster@ueatexas.com.
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