The Federal Fair Labor Standards Act requires most employers to pay non-exempt employees time-and-a-half for any hours over forty hours their employees work during a week. The penalties for not doing so are significant and include a 100 percent liquidated damages penalty and the employee’s attorney fees, in addition to up to two to three years of back overtime pay.
In Colorado, the overtime wage laws are sometimes even more favorable to workers than federal law. For employees who fall under Colorado state wage law, employers are required to pay each non-exempt employee an overtime wage of one-and-a-half times the employees’ regular hourly rate for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours in a single work week; 12 hours in one workday; or 12 consecutive hours, regardless of whether the shift overlaps into the following calendar day. An employer must pay its employees using a method that would give the greatest benefit to their employees and must have an established weekly work schedule with a workday defined as a consecutive 24 hour period beginning at the same hour each day.
Non-exempt employees are generally entitled to overtime pay if they work more than 40 hours in a single designated work week, or if they work shifts longer than 12 hours in a single workday – even if their shift overlaps into the next calendar day. An employer may not average hours in multiple work weeks to avoid paying overtime wages.
Neither federal nor Colorado labor law limits the number of hours per week an employer may require its employees to work. An exception to this rule is that employees working in certain hazardous jobs may not work more than eight hours in one 24-hour period.
Both federal and state laws prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who make a complaint about overtime compensation. Employers who retaliate against an employee for exercising their rights under the minimum wage and overtime laws may face criminal penalties in addition to severe civil penalties.