Depending on the city in which you live and the industry where you make your living, your employer may have policies or practices that seem normal in the context of the industry, but do not actually align with employment law. One of the most commonly misunderstood issues in employment law is an employee's right to overtime pay.
Overtime pay rules are actually quite simple. If an employee works for more than 40 hours for the same employer in the same capacity in a given week, then that employee is owed overtime compensation for any additional hours worked. An employee may not voluntarily waive this right.
Employers often try various ways to skirt around this regulation. Some employers may simply tell employees that they may not work more than 40 hours a week, while others may attempt to form an agreement with employees that they simply will not count time that they work over eight hours in a given day or 40 hours in a given week. Some may also maintain policies that overtime work requires prior approval in order for employees to receive overtime rates. These practices are not allowed under current wage laws.
Still, many employers continue to enforce these policies illegally. Make no mistake, these policies and practices are illegal, and can cause significant issues for employers that far exceed the expense of properly paying employees for the work they do.
If you believe that your employer is failing to pay you fair overtime wages, do not hesitate to consult with an employment law attorney. Your rights, and the rights of all other workers in every industry, deserve protection and respect. Be sure to do your part to keep your rights secure and make all workplaces more just.
Source: U.S. Department of Labor, "Fact Sheet #23: Overtime Pay Requirements of the FLSA," accessed Dec. 15, 2017