May 03, 2009
US Department of Labor Issues Opinion Letter on Retroactive Overtime Calculation
Filed under: News
Vision Payroll

The US Department of Labor (DOL) recently issued Administrator signed Opinion Letter FLSA2009-3. Although Opinion Letters only apply to the exact set of facts and circumstances presented in each case, they are a valuable aid in understanding current interpretations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

In this Opinion Letter, an employer requested an opinion as to whether its method of calculating retroactive overtime pay was compliant with the FLSA. After a reorganization at the employer, certain formerly exempt employees no longer performed the duties that qualified them as exempt. These employees had been paid a salary even after they had become non-exempt employees. This salary might have been reported on their bi-weekly pay stubs as 100 hours worked at $18.25 per hour for a salary of $1,825.00 regardless of the number of actual hours worked. This was due to an understanding that these employees would generally work at least fifty hours each work week and the limitations of the employer’s payroll department and software.

The employer’s method for calculating overtime for the newly non-exempt employees was as follows:

  1. Determine the actual hours worked by an employee for a given week.
  2. Calculate the equivalent of the employee’s weekly salary by dividing the bi-weekly salary by two.
  3. Divide that weekly salary by the number of hours worked in that week.
  4. Divide that resulting hourly rate equivalent by two in order to determine the hourly overtime premium.
  5. Multiply that overtime premium rate by the overtime hours worked in that week.

In all cases, the resulting hourly rate calculated exceeded the applicable minimum wage.

The Opinion Letter stated that the fact the payroll software displayed an hourly rate on the check did not mean that the employer was required to pay overtime based on that rate; therefore, the employer’s method of calculating overtime was in compliance with the FLSA.

State laws may provide rules that are more beneficial to the employee and must be followed. Contact Vision Payroll if you have questions about this Opinion Letter.


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