New Jersey employees often incorrectly assume that their employers may not force them to work overtime hours. The New Jersey State Wage and Hour Law (NJSWHL) states that employers may force employees to work overtime as a condition of their employment. This state law is in line with the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which allows employers to fire employees who refuse to work overtime.
According to the FLSA, employers are not limited in the number of hours they may require employees to work. However, it does require employers to pay employees time and a half for any hours of overtime worked in a week. Another common misconception is that employees who work over eight hours in a day must receive overtime compensation. This is not so; the FLSA only requires that employees be paid overtime for any hours worked in excess of 40 in a week.
The FLSA defines a workweek as a fixed and regularly recurring period of 168 hours. The workweek may begin and end on any day as long as it contains seven consecutive 24-hour periods. Hours from two or more weeks may not be averaged in order to earn overtime pay. The FLSA also does not require overtime pay for work performed on weekends or holidays.
New Jersey employers are required to pay at least minimum wage for hours worked up to 40 and then must pay at least time and a half for any hours worked over 40 in a week. Generally, the NJSWHL does not limit the number of hours an employee may be required to work and New Jersey employers may fire employees who do not comply with forced overtime.
There is an exception to the NJSWHR – the New Jersey Mandatory Overtime Restrictions for Health Care Facilities (MORHCF). The MORHCF dictates that health care facilities may not terminate an hourly worker who is covered under the Act if he or she refuses to work overtime unless there is an unforeseeable emergent circumstance or a national, state or, municipal emergency. Employees are covered under the Act if they are hourly workers employed by health care facilities who are involved in patient care and clinical services. An unforeseeable emergent circumstance is one that is unpredictable or unavoidable, requiring immediate action.
The MORHCF states that the emergent circumstance exception should be used as a last resort and not simply because of chronic short staffing. Therefore, employers must exhaust reasonable efforts to fill vacancies before resorting to requiring employees to work hours in excess of a predetermined and regularly scheduled 40-hour workweek. The law states that New Jersey’s public policy is to safeguard health care facility workers’ health, efficiency and general well-being; therefore, health care facility workers may not be required to work over 40 hours a week unless there is an unforeseeable emergent circumstance.
Middletown Employment Lawyers at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. Represent New Jersey Employees in Overtime Disputes
If you are involved in an overtime dispute, contact an experienced Middletown employment lawyer at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C.. Our attorneys are experienced in handling employment law issues and can help you understand your rights and options. We represent clients throughout New Jersey, including Middletown, Red Bank, Cherry Hill, and Marlton.