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Working Overtime – Is it Worth It?

By Bonnie Johnson,


You may be pulling an extra shift for a coworker, or your employer asks you to work a few additional hours to meet the deadline for a big project. Maybe you just need that extra income you’d receive by working hours exceeding your normal work week. You may be able to work overtime, but will you get paid?

Who gets overtime?
If you’re putting in extra time this week at work, you may expect your next paycheck to see a nice increase. Unfortunately, it’s not that cut and dry. Overtime requirements may vary by state or province, or by other special conditions. The following is meant to be a guide only and not legal advice. We’ve included links that may also be helpful.

In the United States, overtime is spelled out in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). As a general rule, non-exempt employees covered by FLSA must receive overtime pay for hours worked over 40 in a workweek at a rate of at least time and one-half. Some employees may be exempt from overtime pay if they are paid on a salary basis and work in an executive, administrative, professional, computer or outside sales role. Your job title doesn’t determine your exempt or non-exempt status; job duties and salary must meet requirements outlined by the Department of Labor.

Canadian workers are paid overtime for hours worked beyond their standard work day or week, however labour laws vary from province to province. Overtime pay obligations and rights are outlined for each province, such as the Employment Standards Act (ESA) in Ontario. Like the U.S., overtime pay is usually 1.5 times the employee’s regular rate of pay, but the minimum number of hours worked and other details may vary by jurisdiction. Overtime regulations do not cover all job classes and occupations. Find general guidelines by province here.

Is Overtime Available? surveyed agribusinesses in the 2017-2018 HR Review. More than 60% of U.S. and Canadian agricultural employers reported that employee overtime stayed relatively the same during the last 12 months; over 20% reported increased overtime in 2017.

An Employer Perspective
The overtime compensation ordeal can be a double-edged sword for employers. Completed tasks are necessary for the job to be considered satisfactory and the company to make profits, but if that comes with paying overtime to several employees each pay period, management may need to look at some other options to cut the cost because overtime can be costly to employers. Employers may consider increasing staff, utilizing another shift or work hours, or reduce an employee’s workload/duties.

Employers will evaluate employee hours worked versus end-product/sales results. If an employer is paying overtime and the workload or final product is still not being completed in a timely manner, or to the employer’s standards– issues within the workforce need to be identified and addressed.

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This article is not legal advice and is for guidance only. Check with your legal counsel for the most relevant and up to date information.