Broaden and Strengthen Overtime Pay Protections

All workers should receive fair pay and compensation for working excessive hours.

Advocating for Workers’ Right to Overtime Pay

Under the current federal overtime rules, millions of workers are either not entitled to overtime pay or are misclassified as overtime exempt—meaning it doesn’t apply to them—robbing these workers of wages or their personal time.

NELP, in partnership with worker leaders and allies, is advocating to make more workers eligible for overtime compensation by:

  • Increasing the overtime salary threshold, below which workers must automatically be paid overtime for all hours they work over 40 per week. Currently, workers must earn less than $684 a week, or $35,568 a year, to qualify for overtime pay. That’s too low. By raising this threshold, millions of workers will be automatically entitled to overtime pay.
  • Automatically updating the overtime salary threshold. This will ensure that overtime protections keep up with actual economic conditions for workers, and that employers have the predictability of regular and modest adjustments to overtime eligibility that they can plan for.
  • Ending overtime protections exclusions. Millions of workers, such as teachers and farmworkers, cannot get overtime pay no matter how many hours they work. It’s time to eliminate these unjust exclusions to overtime protections.

Increasing the Overtime Salary Threshold

The current federal overtime salary threshold is set far too low at $684 a week (or $35,568 a year), which means that a person who works full time making $684 a week (or more) can be required to work long hours without any extra compensation. As a result, the 40-hour workweek no longer exists for millions of workers in a wide range of occupations. In fact, workers are routinely asked to work 50, 60, or even 70-hour weeks, pulling them away from their families and communities.

By raising the salary threshold, millions of workers who are working more than 40 hours per week without overtime premium pay will be provided with new and enhanced protections. A stronger salary threshold also means that employers will no longer be able to take advantage of unpaid overtime hours for workers earning less than the threshold.

Overall, increasing the overtime salary threshold will foster both a healthier work-life balance and an environment where workers are compensated with fair pay.

Automatically Updating the Overtime Salary Threshold

“Indexing” or automatically increasing the salary threshold will ensure that overtime protections do not stagnate, that they are aligned with routine cost-of-living increases for workers, and that employers will have the predictability of regular adjustments to overtime eligibility that they can plan for year to year.

In August 2023, the U.S. Department of Labor proposed updating the overtime salary threshold every three years. This policy, if adopted, will be a good first step, but an annual update would go even further in making sure intended workers are protected.

States Are Strengthening Overtime Protections

States must also strengthen their overtime protections. Many states, including Colorado, New York, California, and Washington, have taken steps to significantly raise their overtime salary thresholds and provide for automatic increases to them.

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Overtime Protections’ Impact on Workers


women, including 700,000 women of color, would benefit from strengthening and expanding overtime protections.


is the share of their salary that the average worker lost based on overtime misclassification in 2019.


of overtime pay is how much was stolen from workers by employers who misclassified them as overtime exempt in 2019.

Overtime regulation is a much-needed improvement over the current status quo that fosters a climate of misclassification of millions of workers as overtime exempt, which robs them both of wages and their own personal time.

Judy Conti, NELP Director of Government Affairs

Ending Overtime Pay Exclusions

Millions of workers, including teachers and farmworkers, cannot get overtime pay no matter how many hours they work, because they are unfairly excluded from the law’s protections.

Workers Demand Overtime Protections

“Updating the FLSA’s regulatory treatment of teachers would be a step in the right direction, helping to ensure we can be fairly compensated for the [overtime] hours we work outside the classroom and to raise the pay floor for those who barely make above minimum wage.”

— Audra DeRidder, a special education and fifth-grade math and science teacher in Iron Mountain, Michigan

Read Audra’s Story

“Because our overtime hours are free for the company, they [made] us work 60 to 70 hours a week…And most of my hours weren’t even spent managing the store, but instead stocking shelves or running the cash register since we never had enough staff.”

— Paige Murdock, a Dollar General store manager from Eliot, Maine

Read Paige’s Story