Mandatory Overtime (Forced Overtime)

Definition

The term mandatory overtime refers to those hours in excess of forty in a single workweek that an employer states the employee must work or they will be subjected to disciplinary action.  The amount of mandatory overtime an employer imposes is typically controlled through collective bargaining, since it is not regulated by federal law.

Explanation

Also referred to as forced overtime, mandatory overtime is not regulated by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).  The only overtime protections apply to the work hours of 14 and 15 year olds, which are restricted to three hours on a school day, eight hours on a non-school day, and eighteen hours in a school week.

Under federal law, companies are required to pay employees covered by the FLSA not less than 1.5 times their hourly rate when they work in excess of forty hours in a seven day workweek.  This mechanism typically controls the amount of mandatory overtime imposed.  Controls may also be established through collective bargaining; this is oftentimes true when the workforce is represented by a labor union.  Employees that refuse to work mandatory overtime are normally subject to discipline, which can include termination.

Under certain conditions, an employee can refuse mandatory overtime.  For example, employers may be required to modify their overtime policies for individuals protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  Overtime policies that create a safety risk to the employee may also be illegal.  In cases of the law, a qualified attorney should be consulted.

Note:  State laws restricting the amount of overtime worked in a single day or week may apply. This information can be found on the state's Department of Labor website.

Related Terms

double time pay, back pay, hazard pay, holiday pay, floating holiday, overtime pay