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Title 29Subtitle BChapter VSubchapter BPart 778 → Subpart D


Title 29: Labor
PART 778—OVERTIME COMPENSATION


Subpart D—Special Problems


Contents

Introductory

§778.300   Scope of subpart.

Change in the Beginning of the Workweek

§778.301   Overlapping when change of workweek is made.
§778.302   Computation of overtime due for overlapping workweeks.

Additional Pay for Past Period

§778.303   Retroactive pay increases.

How Deductions Affect the Regular Rate

§778.304   Amounts deducted from cash wages—general.
§778.305   Computation where particular types of deductions are made.
§778.306   Salary reductions in short workweeks.
§778.307   Disciplinary deductions.

Lump Sum Attributed to Overtime

§778.308   The overtime rate is an hourly rate.
§778.309   Fixed sum for constant amount of overtime.
§778.310   Fixed sum for varying amounts of overtime.
§778.311   Flat rate for special job performed in overtime hours.

“Task” Basis of Payment

§778.312   Pay for task without regard to actual hours.
§778.313   Computing overtime pay under the Act for employees compensated on task basis.
§778.314   Special situations.

Effect of Failure To Count or Pay for Certain Working Hours

§778.315   Payment for all hours worked in overtime workweek is required.
§778.316   Agreements or practices in conflict with statutory requirements are ineffective.
§778.317   Agreements not to pay for certain nonovertime hours.
§778.318   Productive and nonproductive hours of work.

Effect of Paying for But Not Counting Certain Hours

§778.319   Paying for but not counting hours worked.
§778.320   Hours that would not be hours worked if not paid for.

Reduction in Workweek Schedule With No Change in Pay

§778.321   Decrease in hours without decreasing pay—general.
§778.322   Reducing the fixed workweek for which a salary is paid.
§778.323   Effect if salary is for variable workweek.
§778.324   Effect on hourly rate employees.
§778.325   Effect on salary covering more than 40 hours' pay.
§778.326   Reduction of regular overtime workweek without reduction of take-home pay.
§778.327   Temporary or sporadic reduction in schedule.
§778.328   Plan for gradual permanent reduction in schedule.
§778.329   Alternating workweeks of different fixed lengths.

Prizes as Bonuses

§778.330   Prizes or contest awards generally.
§778.331   Awards for performance on the job.
§778.332   Awards for activities not normally part of employee's job.
§778.333   Suggestion system awards.

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Introductory

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§778.300   Scope of subpart.

This subpart applies the principles of computing overtime to some of the problems that arise frequently.

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Change in the Beginning of the Workweek

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§778.301   Overlapping when change of workweek is made.

As stated in §778.105, the beginning of the workweek may be changed for an employee or for a group of employees if the change is intended to be permanent and is not designed to evade the overtime requirements of the Act. A change in the workweek necessarily results in a situation in which one or more hours or days fall in both the “old” workweek as previously constituted and the “new” workweek. Thus, if the workweek in the plant commenced at 7 a.m. on Monday and it is now proposed to begin the workweek at 7 a.m. on Sunday, the hours worked from 7 a.m. Sunday to 7 a.m. Monday will constitute both the last hours of the old workweek and the first hours of the newly established workweek.

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§778.302   Computation of overtime due for overlapping workweeks.

(a) General rule. When the beginning of the workweek is changed, if the hours which fall within both “old” and “new” workweeks as explained in §778.301 are hours in which the employee does no work, his statutory compensation for each workweek is, of course, determinable in precisely the same manner as it would be if no overlap existed. If, on the other hand, some of the employee's working time falls within hours which are included in both workweeks, the Department of Labor, as an enforcement policy, will assume that the overtime requirements of section 7 of the Act have been satisfied if computation is made as follows:

(1) Assume first that the overlapping hours are to be counted as hours worked only in the “old” workweek and not in the new; compute straight time and overtime compensation due for each of the 2 workweeks on this basis and total the two sums.

(2) Assume now that the overlapping hours are to be counted as hours worked only in the new workweek and not in the old, and complete the total computation accordingly.

(3) Pay the employee an amount not less than the greater of the amounts computed by methods (1) and (2).

(b) Application of rule illustrated. Suppose that, in the example given in §778.301, the employee, who receives $5 an hour and is subject to overtime pay after 40 hours a week, worked 5 hours on Sunday, March 7, 1965. Suppose also that his last “old” workweek commenced at 7 a.m. on Monday, March 1, and he worked 40 hours March 1 through March 5 so that for the workweek ending March 7 he would be owed straight time and overtime compensation for 45 hours. The proposal is to commence the “new” workweek at 7 a.m. on March 7. If in the “new” workweek of Sunday, March 7, through Saturday, March 13, the employee worked a total of 40 hours, including the 5 hours worked on Sunday, it is obvious that the allocation of the Sunday hours to the old workweek will result in higher total compensation to the employee for the 13-day period. He should, therefore, be paid $237.50 (40 × $5 + 5 × $7.50) for the period of March 1 through March 7, and $175 (35 × $5) for the period of March 8 through March 13.

(c) Nonstatutory obligations unaffected. The fact that this method of compensation is permissible under the Fair Labor Standards Act when the beginning of the workweek is changed will not alter any obligation the employer may have under his employment contract to pay a greater amount of overtime compensation for the period in question.

[33 FR 986, Jan. 26, 1968, as amended at 46 FR 7314, Jan. 23, 1981]

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Additional Pay for Past Period

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§778.303   Retroactive pay increases.

Where a retroactive pay increase is awarded to employees as a result of collective bargaining or otherwise, it operates to increase the regular rate of pay of the employees for the period of its retroactivity. Thus, if an employee is awarded a retroactive increase of 10 cents per hour, he is owed, under the Act, a retroactive increase of 15 cents for each overtime hour he has worked during the period, no matter what the agreement of the parties may be. A retroactive pay increase in the form of a lump sum for a particular period must be prorated back over the hours of the period to which it is allocable to determine the resultant increases in the regular rate, in precisely the same manner as a lump sum bonus. For a discussion of the method of allocating bonuses based on employment in a prior period to the workweeks covered by the bonus payment, see §778.209.

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How Deductions Affect the Regular Rate

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§778.304   Amounts deducted from cash wages—general.

(a) The word “deduction” is often loosely used to cover reductions in pay resulting from several causes:

(1) Deductions to cover the cost to the employer of furnishing “board, lodging or other facilities,” within the meaning of section 3(m) of the Act.

(2) Deductions for other items such as tools and uniforms which are not regarded as “facilities.”

(3) Deductions authorized by the employee (such as union dues) or required by law (such as taxes and garnishments).

(4) Reductions in a fixed salary paid for a fixed workweek in weeks in which the employee fails to work the full schedule.

(5) Deductions for disciplinary reasons.

(b) In general, where such deductions are made, the employee's “regular rate” is the same as it would have been if the occasion for the deduction had not arisen. Also, as explained in part 531 of this chapter, the requirements of the Act place certain limitations on the making of some of the above deductions.

[33 FR 986, Jan. 26, 1968, as amended at 46 FR 7314, Jan. 23, 1981]

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§778.305   Computation where particular types of deductions are made.

The regular rate of pay of an employee whose earnings are subject to deductions of the types described in paragraphs (a)(1), (2), and (3) of §778.304 is determined by dividing his total compensation (except statutory exclusions) before deductions by the total hours worked in the workweek. (See also §§531.36-531.40 of this chapter.)

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§778.306   Salary reductions in short workweeks.

(a) The reductions in pay described in §778.304(a)(4) are not, properly speaking, “deductions” at all. If an employee is compensated at a fixed salary for a fixed workweek and if this salary is reduced by the amount of the average hourly earnings for each hour lost by the employee in a short workweek, the employee is, for all practical purposes, employed at an hourly rate of pay. This hourly rate is the quotient of the fixed salary divided by the fixed number of hours it is intended to compensate. If an employee is hired at a fixed salary of $200 for a 40-hour week, his hourly rate is $5. When he works only 36 hours he is therefore entitled to $180. The employer makes a “deduction” of $20 from his salary to achieve this result. The regular hourly rate is not altered.

(b) When an employee is paid a fixed salary for a workweek of variable hours (or a guarantee of pay under the provisions of section 7(f) of the Act, as discussed in §§778.402 through 778.414), the understanding is that the salary or guarantee is due the employee in short workweeks as well as in longer ones and “deductions” of this type are not made. Therefore, in cases where the understanding of the parties is not clearly shown as to whether a fixed salary is intended to cover a fixed or a variable workweek the practice of making “deductions” from the salary for hours not worked in short weeks will be considered strong, if not conclusive, evidence that the salary covers a fixed workweek.

[33 FR 986, Jan. 26, 1968, as amended at 46 FR 7314, Jan. 23, 1981]

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§778.307   Disciplinary deductions.

Where deductions as described in §778.304(a)(5) are made for disciplinary reasons, the regular rate of an employee is computed before deductions are made, as in the case of deductions of the types in paragraphs (a) (1), (2), and (3) of §778.304. Thus where disciplinary deductions are made from a piece-worker's earnings, the earnings at piece rates must be totaled and divided by the total hours worked to determine the regular rate before the deduction is applied. In no event may such deductions (or deductions of the type described in §778.304(a)(2)) reduce the earnings to an average below the applicable minimum wage or cut into any part of the overtime compensation due the employee. For a full discussion of the limits placed on such deductions, see part 531 of this chapter. The principles set forth therein with relation to deductions have no application, however, to situations involving refusal or failure to pay the full amount of wages due. See part 531 of this chapter; also §778.306. It should be noted that although an employer may penalize an employee for lateness subject to the limitations stated above by deducting a half hour's straight time pay from his wages, for example, for each half hour, or fraction thereof of his lateness, the employer must still count as hours worked all the time actually worked by the employee in determining the amount of overtime compensation due for the workweek.

[46 FR 7314, Jan. 23, 1981]

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Lump Sum Attributed to Overtime

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§778.308   The overtime rate is an hourly rate.

(a) Section 7(a) of the Act requires the payment of overtime compensation for hours worked in excess of the applicable maximum hours standard at a rate not less than one and one-half times the regular rate. The overtime rate, like the regular rate, is a rate per hour. Where employees are paid on some basis other than an hourly rate, the regular hourly rate is derived, as previously explained, by dividing the total compensation (except statutory exclusions) by the total hours of work for which the payment is made. To qualify as an overtime premium under section 7(e)(5), (6), or (7), the extra compensation for overtime hours must be paid pursuant to a premium rate which is likewise a rate per hour (subject to certain statutory exceptions discussed in §§778.400 through 778.421).

(b) To qualify under section 7(e)(5), the overtime rate must be greater than the regular rate, either a fixed amount per hour or a multiple of the nonovertime rate, such as one and one-third, one and one-half or two times that rate. To qualify under section 7(e) (6) or (7), the overtime rate may not be less than one and one-half times the bonafide rate established in good faith for like work performed during nonovertime hours. Thus, it may not be less than time and one-half but it may be more. It may be a standard multiple greater than one and one-half (for example, double time); or it may be a fixed sum of money per hour which is, as an arithmetical fact, at least one and one-half times the nonovertime rate for example, if the nonovertime rate is $5 per hour, the overtime rate may not be less than $7.50 but may be set at a higher arbitrary figure such as $8 per hour.

[33 FR 986, Jan. 26, 1968, as amended at 46 FR 7314, Jan. 23, 1981]

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§778.309   Fixed sum for constant amount of overtime.

Where an employee works a regular fixed number of hours in excess of the statutory maximum each workweek, it is, of course, proper to pay him, in addition to his compensation for nonovertime hours, a fixed sum in any such week for his overtime work, determined by multiplying his overtime rate by the number of overtime hours regularly worked.

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§778.310   Fixed sum for varying amounts of overtime.

A premium in the form of a lump sum which is paid for work performed during overtime hours without regard to the number of overtime hours worked does not qualify as an overtime premium even though the amount of money may be equal to or greater than the sum owed on a per hour basis. For example, an agreement that provides for the payment of a flat sum of $75 to employees who work on Sunday does not provide a premium which will qualify as an overtime premium, even though the employee's straight time rate is $5 an hour and the employee always works less than 10 hours on Sunday. Likewise, where an agreement provides for the payment for work on Sunday of either the flat sum of $75 or time and one-half the employee's regular rate for all hours worked on Sunday, whichever is greater, the $75 guaranteed payment is not an overtime premium. The reason for this is clear. If the rule were otherwise, an employer desiring to pay an employee a fixed salary regardless of the number of hours worked in excess of the applicable maximum hours standard could merely label as overtime pay a fixed portion of such salary sufficient to take care of compensation for the maximum number of hours that would be worked. The Congressional purpose to effectuate a maximum hours standard by placing a penalty upon the performance of excessive overtime work would thus be defeated. For this reason, where extra compensation is paid in the form of a lump sum for work performed in overtime hours, it must be included in the regular rate and may not be credited against statutory overtime compensation due.

[46 FR 7314, Jan. 23, 1981]

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§778.311   Flat rate for special job performed in overtime hours.

(a) Flat rate is not an overtime premium. The same reasoning applies where employees are paid a flat rate for a special job performed during overtime hours, without regard to the time actually consumed in performance. (This situation should be distinguished from “show-up” and “call-back” pay situations discussed in §§778.220 through 778.222 and from payment at a rate not less than one and one-half times the applicable rate to pieceworkers for work performed during overtime hours, as discussed in §§778.415 through 778.421). The total amount paid must be included in the regular rate; no part of the amount may be credited toward statutory overtime compensation due.

(b) Application of rule illustrated. It may be helpful to give a specific example illustrating the result of paying an employee on the basis under discussion.

(1) An employment agreement calls for the payment of $5 per hour for work during the hours established in good faith as the basic workday or workweek; it provides for the payment of $7.50 per hour for work during hours outside the basic workday or workweek. It further provides that employees doing a special task outside the basic workday or workweek shall receive 6 hours' pay at the rate of $7.50 per hour (a total payment of $45) regardless of the time actually consumed in performance. The applicable maximum hours standard is 40 hours in a workweek.

(2) Suppose an employee under such an agreement works the following schedule:

   MTWTFSS
Hours within basic workday8878800
Pay under contract$40$40$35$40$4000
Hours outside basic workday22110040
Pay under contract$15$45$7.5000$300

1Hours spent in the performance of special work.

(3) To determine the regular rate, the total compensation (except statutory exclusions) must be divided by the total number of hours worked. The only sums to be excluded in this situation are the extra premiums provided by a premium rate (a rate per hour) for work outside the basic workday and workweek, which qualify for exclusion under section 7(e)(7) of the Act, as discussed in §778.204. The $15 paid on Monday, the $7.50 paid on Wednesday and the $30 paid on Saturday are paid pursuant to rates which qualify as premium rates under section 7(e)(7) of the Act. The total extra compensation (over the straight time pay for these hours) provided by these premium rates is $17.50. The sum of $17.50 should be subtracted from the total of $292.50 due the employee under the employment agreement. No part of the $45 payment for the special work performed on Tuesday qualifies for exclusion. The remaining $275 must thus be divided by 48 hours to determine the regular rate—$5.73 per hour. The employee is owed an additional one-half this rate under the Act for each of 8 overtime hours worked—$22.92. The extra compensation in the amount of $17.50 payable pursuant to contract premium rates which qualify as overtime premiums may be credited toward the $22.92 owed as statutory overtime premiums. No part of the $45 payment may be so credited. The employer must pay the employee an additional $5.42 as statutory overtime pay—a total of $297.92 for the week.

[33 FR 986, Jan. 26, 1968, as amended at 46 FR 7315, Jan. 23, 1981]

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“Task” Basis of Payment

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§778.312   Pay for task without regard to actual hours.

(a) Under some employment agreements employees are paid according to a job or task rate without regard to the number of hours consumed in completing the task. Such agreements take various forms but the two most usual forms are the following:

(1) It is determined (sometimes on the basis of a time study) that an employee (or group) should complete a particular task in 8 hours. Upon the completion of the task the employee is credited with 8 “hours” of work though in fact he may have worked more or less than 8 hours to complete the task. At the end of the week an employee entitled to statutory overtime compensation for work in excess of 40 hours is paid at an established hourly rate for the first 40 of the “hours” so credited and at one and one-half times such rate for the “hours” so credited in excess of 40. The number of “hours” credited to the employee bears no necessary relationship to the number of hours actually worked. It may be greater or less. “Overtime” may be payable in some cases after 20 hours of work; in others only after 50 hours or any other number of hours.

(2) A similar task is set up and 8 hours' pay at the established rate is credited for the completion of the task in 8 hours or less. If the employee fails to complete the task in 8 hours he is paid at the established rate for each of the first 8 hours he actually worked. For work in excess of 8 hours or after the task is completed (whichever occurs first) he is paid one and one-half times the established rate for each such hour worked. He is owed overtime compensation under the Act for hours worked in the workweek in excess of 40 but is paid his weekly overtime compensation at the premium rate for the hours in excess of 40 actual or “task” hours (or combination thereof) for which he received pay at the established rate. “Overtime” pay under this plan may be due after 20 hours of work, 25 or any other number up to 40.

(b) These employees are in actual fact compensated on a daily rate of pay basis. In plans of the first type, the established hourly rate never controls the compensation which any employee actually receives. Therefore, the established rate cannot be his regular rate. In plans of the second type the rate is operative only for the slower employees who exceed the time allotted to complete the task; for them it operates in a manner similar to a minimum hourly guarantee for piece workers, as discussed in §778.111. On such days as it is operative it is a genuine rate; at other times it is not.

(c) Since the premium rates (at one and one-half times the established hourly rate) are payable under both plans for hours worked within the basic or normal workday (if one is established) and without regard to whether the hours are or are not in excess of 8 per day or 40 per week, they cannot qualify as overtime premiums under section 7(e) (5), (6), or (7) of the Act. They must therefore be included in the regular rate and no part of them may be credited against statutory overtime compensation due. Under plans of the second type, however, where the pay of an employee on a given day is actually controlled by the established hourly rate (because he fails to complete the task in the 8-hour period) and he is paid at one and one-half times the established rate for hours in excess of 8 hours actually worked, the premium rate paid on that day will qualify as an overtime premium under section 7(e)(5).

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§778.313   Computing overtime pay under the Act for employees compensated on task basis.

(a) An example of the operation of a plan of the second type discussed in §778.312 may serve to illustrate the effects on statutory overtime computations of payment on a task basis. Assume the following facts: The employment agreement establishes a basic hourly rate of $5 per hour, provides for the payment of $7.50 per hour for overtime work (in excess of the basic workday or workweek) and defines the basic workday as 8 hours, and the basic workweek as 40 hours, Monday through Friday. It further provides that the assembling of a machine constitutes a day's work. An employee who completes the assembling job in less than 8 hours will be paid 8 hours' pay at the established rate of $5 per hour and will receive pay at the “overtime” rate for hours worked after the completion of the task. An employee works the following hours in a particular week:

   MTWTFSS
Hours spent on task6779812 60
Day's pay under contract$40$40$40$40$40$600
Additional hours2020 12 00
Additional pay under contract$150$15$7.50$7.5000

(b) In the example in paragraph (a) of this section the employee has actually worked a total of 48 hours and is owed under the contract a total of $305 for the week. The only sums which can be excluded as overtime premiums from this total before the regular rate is determined are the extra $2.50 payments for the extra hour on Thursday and Friday made because of work actually in excess of 8 hours. The payment of the other premium rates under the contract is either without regard to whether or not the hours they compensated were in excess of a bona fide daily or weekly standard or without regard to the number of overtime hours worked. Thus only the sum of $5 is excluded from the total. The remaining $300 is divided by 48 hours to determine the regular rate—$6.25 per hour. One-half this rate is due under the Act as extra compensation for each of the 8 overtime hours—$25. The $5 payment under the contract for actual excess hours may be credited and the balance—$20—is owed in addition to the $305 due under the contract.

[46 FR 7315, Jan. 23, 1981]

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§778.314   Special situations.

There may be special situations in which the facts demonstrate that the hours for which contract overtime compensation is paid to employees working on a “task” or “stint” basis actually qualify as overtime hours under section 7(e)(5), (6), or (7). Where this is true, payment of one and one-half times an agreed hourly rate for “task” or “stint” work may be equivalent to payment pursuant to agreement of one and one-half time a piece rate. The alternative methods of overtime pay computation permitted by section 7(g)(1) or (2), as explained in §§778.415 through 778.421 may be applicable in such a case.

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Effect of Failure To Count or Pay for Certain Working Hours

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§778.315   Payment for all hours worked in overtime workweek is required.

In determining the number of hours for which overtime compensation is due, all hours worked (see §778.223) by an employee for an employer in a particular workweek must be counted. Overtime compensation, at a rate not less than one and one-half times the regular rate of pay, must be paid for each hour worked in the workweek in excess of the applicable maximum hours standard. This extra compensation for the excess hours of overtime work under the Act cannot be said to have been paid to an employee unless all the straight time compensation due him for the nonovertime hours under his contract (express or implied) or under any applicable statute has been paid.

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§778.316   Agreements or practices in conflict with statutory requirements are ineffective.

While it is permissible for an employer and an employee to agree upon different base rates of pay for different types of work, it is settled under the Act that where a rate has been agreed upon as applicable to a particular type of work the parties cannot lawfully agree that the rate for that work shall be lower merely because the work is performed during the statutory overtime hours, or during a week in which statutory overtime is worked. Since a lower rate cannot lawfully be set for overtime hours it is obvious that the parties cannot lawfully agree that the working time will not be paid for at all. An agreement that only the first 8 hours of work on any days or only the hours worked between certain fixed hours of the day or only the first 40 hours of any week will be counted as working time will clearly fail of its evasive purpose. An announcement by the employer that no overtime work will be permitted, or that overtime work will not be compensated unless authorized in advance, will not impair the employee's right to compensation for work which he is actually suffered or permitted to perform.

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§778.317   Agreements not to pay for certain nonovertime hours.

An agreement not to compensate employees for certain nonovertime hours stands on no better footing since it would have the same effect of diminishing the employee's total overtime compensation. An agreement, for example, to pay an employee whose maximum hours standard for the particular workweek is 40 hours, $5 an hour for the first 35 hours, nothing for the hours between 35 and 40 and $7.50 an hour for the hours in excess of 40 would not meet the overtime requirements of the Act. Under the principles set forth in §778.315, the employee would have to be paid $25 for the 5 hours worked between 35 and 40 before any sums ostensibly paid for overtime could be credited toward overtime compensation due under the Act. Unless the employee is first paid $5 for each nonovertime hour worked, the $7.50 per hour payment purportedly for overtime hours is not in fact an overtime payment.

[46 FR 7315, Jan. 23, 1981]

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§778.318   Productive and nonproductive hours of work.

(a) Failure to pay for nonproductive time worked. Some agreements provide for payment only for the hours spent in productive work; the work hours spent in waiting time, time spent in travel on the employer's behalf or similar nonproductive time are not made compensable and in some cases are neither counted nor compensated. Payment pursuant to such an agreement will not comply with the Act; such nonproductive working hours must be counted and paid for.

(b) Compensation payable for nonproductive hours worked. The parties may agree to compensate nonproductive hours worked at a rate (at least the minimum) which is lower than the rate applicable to productive work. In such a case, the regular rate is the weighted average of the two rates, as discussed in §778.115 and the employee whose maximum hours standard is 40 hours is owed compensation at his regular rate for all of the first 40 hours and at a rate not less than one and one-half times this rate for all hours in excess of 40. (See §778.415 for the alternative method of computing overtime pay on the applicable rate.) In the absence of any agreement setting a different rate for nonproductive hours, the employee would be owed compensation at the regular hourly rate set for productive work for all hours up to 40 and at a rate at least one and one-half times that rate for hours in excess of 40.

(c) Compensation attributable to both productive and nonproductive hours. The situation described in paragraph (a) of this section is to be distinguished from one in which such nonproductive hours are properly counted as working time but no special hourly rate is assigned to such hours because it is understood by the parties that the other compensation received by the employee is intended to cover pay for such hours. For example, while it is not proper for an employer to agree with his pieceworkers that the hours spent in down-time (waiting for work) will not be paid for or will be neither paid for nor counted, it is permissible for the parties to agree that the pay the employees will earn at piece rates is intended to compensate them for all hours worked, the productive as well as the nonproductive hours. If this is the agreement of the parties, the regular rate of the pieceworker will be the rate determined by dividing the total piecework earnings by the total hours worked (both productive and nonproductive) in the workweek. Extra compensation (one-half the rate as so determined) would, of course, be due for each hour worked in excess of the applicable maximum hours standard.

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Effect of Paying for But Not Counting Certain Hours

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§778.319   Paying for but not counting hours worked.

In some contracts provision is made for payment for certain hours, which constitute working time under the Act, coupled with a provision that these hours will not be counted as working time. Such a provision is a nullity. If the hours in question are hours worked, they must be counted as such in determining whether more than the applicable maximum hours have been worked in the workweek. If more hours have been worked, the employee must be paid overtime compensation at not less than one and one-half times his regular rate for all overtime hours. A provision that certain hours will be compensated only at straight time rates is likewise invalid. If the hours are actually hours worked in excess of the applicable maximum hours standard, extra half-time compensation will be due regardless of any agreement to the contrary.

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§778.320   Hours that would not be hours worked if not paid for.

In some cases an agreement or established practice provides for compensation for hours spent in certain types of activities which would not be regarded as working time under the Act if no compensation were provided. Preliminary and postliminary activities and time spent in eating meals between working hours fall in this category. Compensation for such hours does not convert them into hours worked unless it appears from all the pertinent facts that the parties have treated such time as hours worked. Except for certain activity governed by the Portal-to-Portal Act (see paragraph (b) of this section), the agreement or established practice of the parties will be respected, if reasonable.

(a) Time treated as hours worked. Where the parties have reasonably agreed to include as hours worked time devoted to activities of the type described in the introductory text of this section, payments for such hours will not have the mathematical effect of increasing or decreasing the regular rate of an employee if the hours are compensated at the same rate as other working hours. The requirements of section 7(a) of the Act will be considered to be met where overtime compensation at one and one-half times such rate is paid for the hours so compensated in the workweek which are in excess of the statutory maximum.

(b) Time not treated as hours worked. Under the principles set forth in §778.319, where the payments are made for time spent in an activity which, if compensable under contract, custom, or practice, is required to be counted as hours worked under the Act by virtue of section 4 of the Portal-to-Portal Act of 1947 (see parts 785 and 790 of this chapter), no agreement by the parties to exclude such compensable time from hours worked would be valid. On the other hand, in the case of time spent in an activity which would not be hours worked under the Act if not compensated and would not become hours worked under the Portal-to-Portal Act even if made compensable by contract, custom, or practice, such time will not be counted as hours worked unless agreement or established practice indicates that the parties have treated the time as hours worked. Such time includes bona fide meal periods, see §785.19. Unless it appears from all the pertinent facts that the parties have treated such activities as hours worked, payments for such time will be regarded as qualifying for exclusion from the regular rate under the provisions of section 7(e)(2), as explained in §§778.216 through 778.224. The payments for such hours cannot, of course, qualify as overtime premiums creditable toward overtime compensation under section 7(h) of the Act.

[84 FR 68776, Dec. 16, 2019]

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Reduction in Workweek Schedule With No Change in Pay

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§778.321   Decrease in hours without decreasing pay—general.

Since the regular rate of pay is the average hourly rate at which an employee is actually employed, and since this rate is determined by dividing his total remuneration for employment (except statutory exclusions) for a given workweek by the total hours worked in that workweek for which such remuneration was paid, it necessarily follows that if the schedule of hours is reduced while the pay remains the same, the regular rate has been increased.

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§778.322   Reducing the fixed workweek for which a salary is paid.

If an employee whose maximum hours standard is 40 hours was hired at a salary of $200 for a fixed workweek of 40 hours, his regular rate at the time of hiring was $5 per hour. If his workweek is later reduced to a fixed workweek of 35 hours while his salary remains the same, it is the fact that it now takes him only 35 hours to earn $200, so that he earns his salary at the average rate of $5.71 per hour. His regular rate thus becomes $5.71 per hour; it is no longer $5 an hour. Overtime pay is due under the Act only for hours worked in excess of 40, not 35, but if the understanding of the parties is that the salary of $200 now covers 35 hours of work and no more, the employee would be owed $5.71 per hour under his employment contract for each hour worked between 35 and 40. He would be owed not less than one and one-half times $5.71 ($8.57) per hour, under the statute, for each hour worked in excess of 40 in the workweek. In weeks in which no overtime is worked only the provisions of section 6 of the Act, requiring the payment of not less than the applicable minimum wage for each hour worked, apply so that the employee's right to receive $5.71 per hour is enforceable only under his contract. However, in overtime weeks the Administrator has the duty to insure the payment of at least one and one-half times the employee's regular rate of pay for hours worked in excess of 40 and this overtime compensation cannot be said to have been paid until all straight time compensation due the employee under the statute or his employment contract has been paid. Thus if the employee works 41 hours in a particular week, he is owed his salary for 35 hours—$200, 5 hours' pay at $5.71 per hour for the 5 hours between 35 and 40—$28.55, and 1 hour's pay at $8.57 for the 1 hour in excess of 40—$8.57, or a total of $237.12 for the week.

[46 FR 7316, Jan. 23, 1981]

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§778.323   Effect if salary is for variable workweek.

The discussion in the prior section sets forth one result of reducing the workweek from 40 to 35 hours. It is not either the necessary result or the only possible result. As in all cases of employees hired on a salary basis, the regular rate depends in part on the agreement of the parties as to what the salary is intended to compensate. In reducing the customary workweek schedule to 35 hours the parties may agree to change the basis of the employment arrangement by providing that the salary which formerly covered a fixed workweek of 40 hours now covers a variable workweek up to 40 hours. If this is the new agreement, the employee receives $200 for workweeks of varying lengths, such as 35, 36, 38, or 40 hours. His rate thus varies from week to week, but in weeks of 40 hours or over, it is $5 per hour (since the agreement of the parties is that the salary covers up to 40 hours and no more) and his overtime rate, for hours in excess of 40, thus remains $7.50 per hour. Such a salary arrangement presumably contemplates that the salary will be paid in full for any workweek of 40 hours or less. The employee would thus be entitled to his full salary if he worked only 25 or 30 hours. No deductions for hours not worked in short workweeks would be made. (For a discussion of the effect of deductions on the regular rate, see §§778.304 to 778.307.)

[46 FR 7316, Jan. 23, 1981; 46 FR 33516, June 30, 1981]

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§778.324   Effect on hourly rate employees.

A similar situation is presented where employees have been hired at an hourly rate of pay and have customarily worked a fixed workweek. If the workweek is reduced from 40 to 35 hours without reduction in total pay, the average hourly rate is thereby increased as in §778.322. If the reduction in work schedule is accompanied by a new agreement altering the mode of compensation from an hourly rate basis to a fixed salary for a variable workweek up to 40 hours, the results described in §778.323 follow.

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§778.325   Effect on salary covering more than 40 hours' pay.

The same reasoning applies to salary covering straight time pay for a longer workweek. If an employee whose maximum hours standard is 40 hours was hired at a fixed salary of $275 for 55 hours of work, he was entitled to a statutory overtime premium for the 15 hours in excess of 40 at the rate of $2.50 per hour (half-time) in addition to his salary, and to statutory overtime pay of $7.50 per hour (time and one-half) for any hours worked in excess of 55. If the scheduled workweek is later reduced to 50 hours, with the understanding between the parties that the salary will be paid as the employee's nonovertime compensation for each workweek of 55 hours or less, his regular rate in any overtime week of 55 hours or less is determined by dividing the salary by the number of hours worked to earn it in that particular week, and additional half-time, based on that rate, is due for each hour in excess of 40. In weeks of 55 hours or more, his regular rate remains $5 per hour and he is due, in addition to his salary, extra compensation of $2.50 for each hour over 40 but not over 55 and full time and one-half, or $7.50, for each hour worked in excess of 55. If, however, the understanding of the parties is that the salary now covers a fixed workweek of 50 hours, his regular rate is $5.50 per hour in all weeks. This assumes that when an employee works less than 50 hours in a particular week, deductions are made at a rate of $5.50 per hour for the hours not worked.

[46 FR 7316, Jan. 23, 1981]

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§778.326   Reduction of regular overtime workweek without reduction of take-home pay.

The reasoning applied in the foregoing sections does not, of course, apply to a situation in which the former earnings at both straight time and overtime are paid to the employee for the reduced workweek. Suppose an employee was hired at an hourly rate of $5 an hour and regularly worked 50 hours, earning $275 as his total straight time and overtime compensation, and the parties now agree to reduce the workweek to 45 hours without any reduction in take-home pay. The parties in such a situation may agree to an increase in the hourly rate from $5 per hour to $6 so that for a workweek of 45 hours (the reduced schedule) the employee's straight time and overtime earnings will be $285. The parties cannot, however, agree that the employee is to receive exactly $285 as total compensation (including overtime pay) for a workweek varying, for example, up to 50 hours, unless he does so pursuant to contracts specifically permitted in section 7(f) of the Act, as discussed in §§778.402 through 778.414. An employer cannot otherwise discharge his statutory obligation to pay overtime compensation to an employee who does not work the same fixed hours each week by paying a fixed amount purporting to cover both straight time and overtime compensation for an “agreed” number of hours. To permit such a practice without proper statutory safeguards would result in sanctioning the circumvention of the provisions of the Act which require that an employee who works more than 40 hours in any workweek be compensated, in accordance with express congressional intent, at a rate not less than one and one-half times his regular rate of pay for the burden of working long hours. In arrangements of this type, no additional financial pressure would fall upon the employer and no additional compensation would be due to the employee under such a plan until the workweek exceeded 50 hours.

[46 FR 7316, Jan. 23, 1981]

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§778.327   Temporary or sporadic reduction in schedule.

(a) The problem of reduction in the workweek is somewhat different where a temporary reduction is involved. Reductions for the period of a dead or slow season follow the rules announced above. However, reduction on a more temporary or sporadic basis presents a different problem. It is obvious that as a matter of simple arithmetic an employer might adopt a series of different rates for the same work, varying inversely with the number of overtime hours worked in such a way that the employee would earn no more than his straight time rate no matter how many hours he worked. If he set the rate at $6 per hour for all workweeks in which the employee worked 40 hours or less, approximately $5.93 per hour for workweeks of 41 hours, approximately $5.86 for workweeks of 42 hours, approximately $5.45 for workweeks of 50 hours, and so on, the employee would always receive (for straight time and overtime at these “rates”) $6 an hour regardless of the number of overtime hours worked. This is an obvious bookkeeping device designed to avoid the payment of overtime compensation and is not in accord with the law. See Walling v. Green Head Bit & Supply Co., 138 F. 2d 453. The regular rate of pay of this employee for overtime purposes is, obviously, the rate he earns in the normal nonovertime week—in this case, $6 per hour.

(b) The situation is different in degree but not in principle where employees who have been at a bona fide $6 rate usually working 50 hours and taking home $330 as total straight time and overtime pay for the week are, during occasional weeks, cut back to 42 hours. If the employer raises their rate to $7.65 for such weeks so that their total compensation is $328.95 for a 42-hour week the question may properly be asked, when they return to the 50-hour week, whether the $6 rate is really their regular rate. Are they putting in 8 additional hours of work for that extra $1.05 or is their “regular” rate really now $7.65 an hour since this is what they earn in the short workweek? It seems clear that where different rates are paid from week to week for the same work and where the difference is justified by no factor other than the number of hours worked by the individual employee—the longer he works the lower the rate—the device is evasive and the rate actually paid in the shorter or nonovertime week is his regular rate for overtime purposes in all weeks.

[46 FR 7317, Jan. 23, 1981; 46 FR 33516, June 30, 1981]

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§778.328   Plan for gradual permanent reduction in schedule.

In some cases, pursuant to a definite plan for the permanent reduction of the normal scheduled workweek from say, 48 hours to 40 hours, an agreement is entered into with a view to lessening the shock caused by the expected reduction in take-home wages. The agreement may provide for a rising scale of rates as the workweek is gradually reduced. The varying rates established by such agreement will be recognized as bona fide in the weeks in which they are respectively operative provided that (a) the plan is bona fide and there is no effort made to evade the overtime requirements of the Act; (b) there is a clear downward trend in the duration of the workweek throughout the period of the plan even though fluctuations from week-to-week may not be constantly downward; and (c) the various rates are operative for substantial periods under the plan and do not vary from week-to-week in accordance with the number of hours which any particular employee or group happens to work.

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§778.329   Alternating workweeks of different fixed lengths.

In some cases an employee is hired on a salary basis with the understanding that his weekly salary is intended to cover the fixed schedule of hours (and no more) and that this fixed schedule provides for alternating workweeks of different fixed lengths. For example, many offices operate with half staff on Saturdays and, in consequence, employees are hired at a fixed salary covering a fixed working schedule of 7 hours a day Monday through Friday and 5 hours on alternate Saturdays. The parties agree that extra compensation is to be paid for all hours worked in excess of the schedule in either week at the base rate for hours between 35 and 40 in the short week and at time and one-half such rate for hours in excess of 40 in all weeks. Such an arrangement results in the employee's working at two different rates of pay—one thirty-fifth of the salary in short workweeks and one-fourtieth of the salary in the longer weeks. If the provisions of such a contract are followed, if the nonovertime hours are compensated in full at the applicable regular rate in each week and overtime compensation is properly computed for hours in excess of 40 at time and one-half the rate applicable in the particular workweek, the overtime requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act will be met. While this situation bears some resemblance to the one discussed in §778.327 there is this significant difference; the arrangement is permanent, the length of the respective workweeks and the rates for such weeks are fixed on a permanent-schedule basis far in advance and are therefore not subject to the control of the employer and do not vary with the fluctuations in business. In an arrangement of this kind, if the employer required the employee to work on Saturday in a week in which he was scheduled for work only on the Monday through Friday schedule, he would be paid at his regular rate for all the Saturday hours in addition to his salary.

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Prizes as Bonuses

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§778.330   Prizes or contest awards generally.

All compensation (except statutory exclusions) paid by or on behalf of an employer to an employee as remuneration for employment must be included in the regular rate, whether paid in the form of cash or otherwise. Prizes are therefore included in the regular rate if they are paid to an employee as remuneration for employment. If therefore it is asserted that a particular prize is not to be included in the regular rate, it must be shown either that the prize was not paid to the employee for employment, or that it is not a thing of value which is part of wages.

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§778.331   Awards for performance on the job.

Where a prize is awarded for the quality, quantity or efficiency of work done by the employee during his customary working hours at his normal assigned tasks (whether on the employer's premises or elsewhere) it is obviously paid as additional remuneration for employment. Thus prizes paid for cooperation, courtesy, efficiency, highest production, best attendance, best quality of work, greatest number of overtime hours worked, etc., are part of the regular rate of pay. If the prize is paid in cash, the amount paid must be allocated (for the method of allocation see §778.209) over the period during which it was earned to determine the resultant increase in the average hourly rate for each week of the period. If the prize is merchandise, the cost to the employer is the sum which must be allocated. Where the prize is either cash or merchandise, with the choice left the employee, the amount to be allocated is the amount (or the cost) of the actual prize he accepts.

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§778.332   Awards for activities not normally part of employee's job.

(a) Where the prize is awarded for activities outside the customary working hours of the employee, beyond the scope of his customary duties or away from the employer's premises, the question of whether the compensation is remuneration for employment will depend on such factors as the amount of time, if any, spent by the employee in competing, the relationship between the contest activities and the usual work of the employee, whether the competition involves work usually performed by other employees for employers, whether an employee is specifically urged to participate or led to believe that he will not merit promotion or advancement unless he participates.

(b) By way of example, a prize paid for work performed in obtaining new business for an employer would be regarded as remuneration for employment. Although the duties of the employees who participate in the contest may not normally encompass this type of work, it is work of a kind normally performed by salesmen for their employers, and the time spent by the employee in competing for such a prize (whether successfully or not) is working time and must be counted as such in determining overtime compensation due under the Act. On the other hand a prize or bonus paid to an employee when a sale is made by the company's sales representative to a person whom he recommended as a good sales prospect would not be regarded as compensation for services if in fact the prize-winner performed no work in securing the name of the sales prospect and spent no time on the matter for the company in any way.

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§778.333   Suggestion system awards.

The question has been raised whether awards made to employees for suggestions submitted under a suggestion system plan are to be regarded as part of the regular rate. There is no hard and fast rule on this point as the term “suggestion system” has been used to describe a variety of widely differing plans. It may be generally stated, however, that prizes paid pursuant to a bona fide suggestion system plan may be excluded from the regular rate at least in situations where it is the fact that:

(a) The amount of the prize has no relation to the earnings of the employee at his job but is rather geared to the value to the company of the suggestion which is submitted; and

(b) The prize represents a bona fide award for a suggestion which is the result of additional effort or ingenuity unrelated to and outside the scope of the usual and customary duties of any employee of the class eligible to participate and the prize is not used as a substitute for wages; and

(c) No employee is required or specifically urged to participate in the suggestion system plan or led to believe that he will not merit promotion or advancement (or retention of his existing job) unless he submits suggestions; and

(d) The invitation to employees to submit suggestions is general in nature and no specific assignment is outlined to employees (either as individuals or as a group) to work on or develop; and

(e) There is no time limit during which suggestions must be submitted; and

(f) The employer has, prior to the submission of the suggestion by an employee, no notice or knowledge of the fact that an employee is working on the preparation of a suggestion under circumstances indicating that the company approved the task and the schedule of work undertaken by the employee.

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