How Can HR Professionals Prevent And Spot Common Overtime Violations?

No organization wants to face the employment law for overtime violations. Unfortunately, most businesses find themselves in these sticky situations because they do not understand the state labor laws. An in-house HR department or hired HR consultant can help the company overcome such problems because they are well-versed professionals in labor laws.

Also read: Managing HR Compliance in the Age of Technology

HR’s Role In Overtime

The human resource office is among the most sensitive and important positions within any organization. It requires individuals with extensive knowledge in labor and employment law and how these laws affect the organization.

The human resource officer ensures all staff paperwork, information, and job status are correct. Wrong information may, unfortunately, see the organization face penalties from the federal government.

To prevent such hefty penalties, there are common overtime violations that Human Resource Professionals can spot and prevent.

Don’t Be Part Of The Statistics

If the newest research is anything to go by, then most employers are still not aware of when overtime pay is required. Research shows that there have been over 10,722 overtime violation cases in the year 2016.

According to the latest news, however, these case filings have reduced as opposed to previous years. How is this possible? Well, most organizations, especially those with professional human resource personnel, now understand overtime violations and how to avoid them.

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What Are Typical Overtime Violations?

Some common overtime violations that human resource officers can spot immediately include:

Off-The-Clock work

The clock continues to tick when employees are setting up or traveling. They are still on the clock even when they catch up on work at home or work after hours. Whether they work through lunch or drop off things for work, employees deserve payment for these overtime hours.

Battling against these minutes can get employers in trouble. Besides, the company will not be liable if a worker gets injured while performing duties after work hours.

The Line Between A Company Employee And An Independent Contractor

As opposed to employees, independent contractors define their work. They perform specialized jobs outside the office with their equipment. According to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), these contractors are not entitled to overtime pay.

However, if the individual works directly for the organization and receives payroll checks from the same company, then the worker is considered a paid employee. Human resource officers need to spot and differentiate between the company employee and independent contractor.

Also read: 7 Differences Between Hiring Remote and In-house Workers

Reclassifying Employees

Most jobs covered by the FLSA and employees who earn less than $455 in a week are non-exempt. It is against the law to move employees without any proper cause.

This situation can incur huge penalties and cost the company thousands of dollars in back pay. The HR department is responsible for such re-classification because these professionals understand how to classify employees.

Understand How Overtime Accumulates

HR professionals need to help and guide employers through overtime and how it accumulates. A company needs to adjust the work week only when necessary; not as a means to minimize overtime.

Employers who look for ways to change workweeks as a way to eliminate overtime will cost the company thousands of dollars when faced with the law.

Follow The State Laws

A company needs to be aware and understand the FLSA because the Department of Labor takes overtime violations seriously. The FLSA is a set of laws put together to protect employees. The FLSA explains overtime as any time worked over 40 hours per week for nonexempt employees.

The Penalties

Companies that do not adhere to the overtime pay laws listed under the DOL risk facing different forms of penalties that will exceed the actual amount owed. Aside from risking jail time, the company may be subjected to audits that will unmask other wage and hour violations. Furthermore, employers will be required to pay back wages, liquidated damages, fines and court fees.

Spot And Prevent

The human resource department is tasked with regulating company policies and ensuring smooth business operations. It is also responsible for firing and hiring, employee handbooks, and understanding the wage and hour laws. Therefore, human resource professionals have to spot and prevent overtime violations by understanding staff records.

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About the author

Tim Becker is a Partner at Minneapolis’ Johnson // Becker PLLC, and lead sponsor of He is committed to providing clients effective, aggressive legal representation, and has prosecuted numerous individual FLSA violation claims.