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Paycheck Basic Time and a Half James EleganteDid I get my full wages in my last paycheck?

Basic Time-And-A-Half

President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Fair Labor Standards Act into law in 1938. This law restricted child labor, created a national minimum wage, and set the standard workweek at 40 hours. An employer could require additional hours from workers in a week but had to pay a penalty in the form of additional hourly payments to a worker.

As written the Fair Labor Standards Act would seem to limit its application to companies with at least two employees and revenues in excess of $500,000 annually. This is called “Enterprise Coverage” by the U. S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division. But the law also covers workers who are engaged in interstate commerce. As the application of the law has developed over time through challenges in the courts, it is now clear that almost all workers are covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act because they work in interstate commerce.

Most businesses engage in interstate commerce in one way or another, for example when they obtain supplies from a company located in another state and, consequently, a worker who unloads those products from out-of-state then becomes a worker engaged in interstate commerce and is thus covered by the Act. Even the sales clerk who a handles a sale in a store to a customer is engaged in interstate commerce if the clerk used the internet to processes a customer’s payment by credit card.

The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. The federal minimum was last set in 2009. Some states set the minimum at the federal rate, but other states have higher minimums. A few states have no minimum hourly rate at all, although most workers in those states are covered by the federal law. Utah follows the federal minimum; Nevada and Arizona have minimum wage laws set at amounts higher than the federal minimum.

The Fair Labor Standards Act requires wage payment calculated at time-and-a-half for hours worked over 40 in a week. A week is seven twenty-four hour periods.

So, did you get your full wages in your last paycheck? Many employers pay every other week or sometimes twice each month. In an attempt to avoid paying overtime, some employers tell workers that they will only get overtime pay if their hours for two weeks exceed 80. Calculating overtime payment on the basis of a floor of 80 hours in two weeks is not allowed by the federal law.

The employer must look at each week separately to determine whether the worker put in more than 40 hours in that week. If so, the employer must pay the hours over 40 worked in that week at the overtime rate of time-and-a-half. If paychecks come out twice each month, then some of the checks will likely cover two full weeks plus a few days of a third week. In these cases the employer must pay time-and-a-half for those hours worked over 40 in the full two-week periods but must then, in the next paycheck, also pay time-and-a-half for those hours worked over 40 in the full week for which payment of one part was covered in the preceding check.

There are some exceptions and exemptions for the payment of overtime. We’ll explore some of these in other posts. In the meantime, a good source of information can be found at

For more answers to your paycheck questions or labor disagreements, please contact James Elegante P.C. at ‭ 435-628-1682‬, or visit