Employees Working Unauthorized Overtime

If an employee is working overtime without permission from a manager, what options do you have as the employer?

Under federal law (The Fair Labor Standards Act or FLSA), if a non-exempt employee works more than 40 hours in a workweek they must be compensated at a rate of one and one half times their regular hourly rate for all hours over 40 in the week. If an employee is working, they must be paid for all time worked, even if the hours were not authorized by management. For example, if an employee is scheduled for 40 hours and works 46 hours, but the 6 hours of overtime weren’t approved by the employee’s manager, the employee must still be paid for all 46 hours worked. 

If an employee works unauthorized overtime, you can take disciplinary action against the employee.  If you have a progressive discipline policy establish it should be followed. If not, decide whether a verbal warning or a written disciplinary action is appropriate for this situation, Keep documentation of any verbal conversations/warnings as well as written warnings given to the employee regarding the unauthorized overtime.

When confronted, if an employee says they have too much work assigned to them so they feel that working additional hours is the only way to keep up with their responsibilities, you should consider evaluating the duties assigned to this employee to see if any duties can be assigned to another employee.

If after giving warning(s) to the employee the unauthorized overtime continues, you may find yourself in a situation where termination may be warranted.

It is important to remain consistent in how you handle unauthorized overtime just as you would with any other violation of company policy. You don’t want to find yourself facing a claim of discrimination because someone of a protected class (such as gender, race, ace, etc) feels they are being treated unfairly.