Do You Have to Pay For Unauthorized Overtime?
Yes, an employer can make and enforce a policy either forbidding employees from working more than 40 hours in a week, or requiring specific management approval before doing so.
This is an important way that employers can manage both their legal risk and cash flow. If there is truly a need for an employee to work extra time, then you may authorize the work on the theory that the premium pay is a price you are willing to pay for something that needs to get done right away.
If you have non-exempt workers who routinely work ten or more hours of overtime each week, and you believe the work is justified and necessary, you may want to consider adding staff at some point. If they routinely work overtime each week and you do not believe the work is justified and necessary, this may cause you to review the employee's performance and efficiency.
Importantly, however, these are all forward looking steps. If an employee actually works overtime, even in violation of your policy, you have to pay them appropriately for the time they already worked.
Learn more here about overtime under Massachusetts and federal law.
Need Help With an Overtime Question?