Can your employer deny you overtime for hours you already worked?

Companies make more money when they pay their staff as little as possible. Many businesses try to limit how many hours employees work by having policies that prohibit overtime. Since workers who put in more than 40 hours in a week should receive at least 150% of their usual hourly wage, companies can see overtime wages as an expense to avoid.

If your company has a policy that you must receive management or corporate approval for overtime, they probably don’t usually approve overtime requests. Can they refuse to pay you overtime wages if you end up working more than 40 hours in a week?

Employer policy does not overrule federal law

Your company can have rules in place aimed at curtailing overtime expenses, but those internal policies don’t supersede federal overtime laws. Your employer must first and foremost comply with employment laws.

If a manager asked you to stay on or if work duties simply resulted in your time going over 40 hours for a week, your employer cannot deny you pay for the overtime that you worked, even if you didn’t receive approval. They also can’t insist on paying your standard wages for those extra hours. They might reprimand you and/or your boss, but they cannot legally deny you the wages you already earned.

If the company simply won’t budge on its stance that it will not reimburse you for that time you worked even though you have proof that you were on the clock and working, you may need to consider bringing a wage claim against your employer. Not only can your claim help you get the pay you should have already received, but it can also remind your employer that breaking the law is often more expensive than following it.