How do I Claim Overtime Wages?

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  • Written By: G. Wiesen
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 26 February 2020
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Claiming overtime wages is not necessarily difficult, and the steps you follow will typically depend a great deal upon where you live and the company for which you work. The first step you can typically take is to indicate to your employer that you have worked overtime and request payment, or bring up any issues with previous unpaid overtime. If your employer does not wish to pay you for your overtime work, then your actions will depend a great deal upon the laws of the country or region in which you live. Assuming you are in a country with laws regarding overtime wages, then you can typically file with a regional or national agency regarding fair labor practices and potentially bring a civil suit against your employer for unpaid wages.

Overtime wages are typically defined as pay that goes beyond the standard time a person is scheduled to work in a given period of time. For example, in the US, overtime is generally considered to be any time worked in excess of 40 hours each work week. Various states in the US can also have laws regarding how many hours can be worked each day or the number of days within a week that can be worked without generating overtime hours as well. Overtime wages in the US are guaranteed by federal laws as your regular pay plus an additional 50% of your regular pay for each hour of overtime worked.


The first step you should typically take to claim overtime wages is to bring up your overtime to your employer. You should also be sure you qualify for overtime pay since certain positions are legally exempt from overtime regulations. If the company you work for has not paid you appropriately for overtime that was worked, then you should begin by making sure the company is aware of the situation so you can resolve any clerical errors that may have been made. Once you do this, if your employer will not pay you overtime wages, you may want to consult with a lawyer or similar legal professional.

Though overtime laws are fairly straight forward in the US, not every country has such laws, so you should be aware of how overtime and overtime wages are regulated in your area. In the US, you should also consult a lawyer familiar with overtime laws for your state, as some states may have further regulations beyond the assurances of federal labor laws. You will typically begin by filing an overtime wage claim with your employer and the state or federal Department of Labor.

In the US, you typically have up to two years from the time the overtime wages were owed and not paid to you in which to file such a claim. There are some situations, such as if an employer purposely violated laws to avoid paying you overtime, in which you have up to three years to file such a claim. The necessary paperwork for this type of claim can be acquired from the Department of Labor, and a lawyer can help you fill out and file the paperwork properly as well as assist with any further steps that may be required.


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