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Ask The Lawyer By: Daniel A. Gwinn, Esq.

| September 11, 2017


 QUESTION: Our company has a strict policy requiring prior authorization before overtime hours may be worked. One of the people in my department has repeatedly turned in requests for overtime hours, without first obtaining authorization. Since he didn’t get an OK before working the hours, I don’t believe we are under any obligation to pay him. He says he gets the pay, no matter what. There’s a small bet riding on this – which of us is right?

ANSWER: Get out your wallet! You have lost the bet; the company must pay the overtime, authorized or not.

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, as long as a business “suffers or permits” an employee to work on its behalf, the employee must be paid. Employees who come in early or work late are entitled to compensation for their work, whether or not it is authorized. 29 C.F.R. 785.11.

If your company is serious about trimming unauthorized overtime, it should do so through the disciplinary process: establish clear consequences for violating the policy. Unauthorized overtime could result in a write-up, with increasingly severe consequences – including termination – for subsequent violations. An employer who has a “no unauthorized overtime” policy on paper, but fails to enforce it, is assumed to approve the overtime worked and will be responsible for paying that overtime bill. Failure to pay workers for all the hours spent on the job could also lead to trouble with the Department of Labor.

Warning: Any policy against unauthorized overtime must be uniformly enforced against all employees. Uneven enforcement of the policy could open your company up to claims of discrimination.

You may wish to consult with an attorney to draft a clear policy that meets all legal requirements. The lawyers at GWINN TAURIAINEN PLLC are experienced attorneys and are happy to answer your questions. Give us a call for a free initial telephone consultation about your legal needs. For consideration of your questions in our web column, please submit your inquiry on the “Contact Us” page of our website at

Information provided on “Ask the Lawyer” is current as of the date of publication. Laws and their interpretation are subject to change. The material provided through “Ask the Lawyer” is informational only; it should not be considered legal advice. Submitting a question to “Ask the Lawyer” does not create an attorney-client relationship between the person submitting the question and GWINN TAURIAINEN PLLC. To view previous columns, please visit our website.

GWINN TAURIAINEN PLLC, is a Troy based law firm representing clients from Warren, Sterling Heights, Ferndale, Royal Oak, Oak Park, Oakland and Wayne Counties and all of Southeast Michigan

By: Daniel A. Gwinn, Esq.
Attorney and Counselor at Law
901 Wilshire Drive, Suite 550
Troy, MI 48084
(248) 247-3300
(248) 247-3310 facsimile

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