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Can my boss refuse to pay me overtime?

There are times in the workplace when the tasks you need to accomplish do not match the hours you have in the day. Whether an emergency comes up that changes your priorities or a new project interferes with your routine, there are days when getting it all done means putting in more hours.

While you might be willing to put in the extra time, your boss might not be excited about the additional expense of paying overtime. Sometimes, employers will use misleading and intimidating phrases like “unapproved overtime” that make it seem like you will not be paid for extra hours.

Here’s what you should know about your employer’s obligation to pay overtime wages.

No opting out

The short answer about overtime is that if you are eligible for overtime and work over 40 hours in a workweek, you are entitled to overtime, regardless of whether your employer approved it. Employers who encourage employees to work off the clock could be liable for unpaid overtime and face other consequences.

While your employer must pay you for any overtime you work, your boss may also have consequences for employees who work unauthorized overtime. If you are uncertain about your workplaces’ overtime policy, you should ask before working overtime hours.

Your employer chooses your workweek

Depending on the flow of business, some employers choose to have non-traditional workweeks. While many choose to calculate hours either Sunday through Saturday or Monday through Sunday, sometimes that is not the best option for the business.

In Idaho, employers can choose the beginning and end of the workweek, as long as it is seven days and remains consistent. In some cases, employers who know the business is busy over the weekend may choose to have the workweek start on Thursday and cut excess hours when the week slows down.

Knowing how your boss calculates your hours and when you might start accumulating overtime is important. When you understand the rules, you can support a positive relationship with your employer.