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Overtime: Love it or hate it, you should understand the rules

There is an old saying that if you do what you love, you'll never work a day in your life. As true as that may be in terms of the motivation and passion for your job, understand that a job is still a job. And this means that it is subject to state and federal employment laws.

For instance, if you are working overtime as a non-exempt employee, then you should receive appropriate compensation, even if you are more than happy to put in extra hours.

Knowing the guidelines

In accordance with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), non-exempt employees should receive one and one-half times their regular pay for every hour after 40 worked in a single work week. 

This is true whether you want to work overtime or your employer requires it. And while the FLSA does not set a maximum number of hours a person can work in a week, such limits might be established in any employment or union contracts that may be in place. 

In other words, before spending 60, 70 or 80+ hours at work, make sure you confirm overtime eligibility and limits.

Making sure you have the support of your employer

Working extra hours may not seem that demanding, especially if you love what you do and have a big project you are working on. However, you deserve to be properly compensated for your time regardless. 

For instance, recently, workers at a video game company responded to criticisms on their working conditions. Many came out in support of the company, stating that while they put in long hours -- particularly when they are close to releasing a product -- they often do so because they are excited. 

As noted in this article, some of them went on to say that they never work so long that it is unhealthy, and they have a Human Resources team that understands the work environment and works closely with the employees. Such elements are crucial in protecting workers who put in extra hours.

Whether your employer forces you to work overtime or you do so eagerly, extra hours are extra hours. And if you are not receiving overtime pay for those hours, it may be necessary to examine your legal options.

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