Compliance Watch:
What are my overtime rights in Iowa?

June 10th 2024

Workers in Iowa have specific rights regarding wages and overtime pay. Federal laws like the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) protect employees by ensuring they receive proper compensation for any overtime hours worked. However, there are key exceptions to overtime rules to be aware of. It’s important that employees in Iowa understand their overtime entitlements so that they’re not taken advantage of or pressured to work extra hours without due payment. 

In this article, we’ll delve into Iowa’s overtime laws, detailing entitlements, exceptions, and exemptions for employees in the state, providing answers to frequently asked questions. 

This Article Covers

Understanding Overtime in Iowa
Common Questions About Overtime in Iowa
Legal Working Hours in Iowa
Overtime Eligibility in Iowa
    Overtime Payment Calculations in Iowa
      Receiving Overtime Payment in Iowa
      Violations of Overtime Law in Iowa

      Understanding Overtime in Iowa

      Is overtime pay mandatory in Iowa?

      Yes, overtime pay is mandatory in Iowa. 

      Iowa follows the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) for overtime regulations, as there is no state-specific law. Under the FLSA, nonexempt employees must be paid time and a half for hours worked over 40 in a workweek. 

      Most employees in the state are covered by FLSA protections, but only non-exempt employees earning less than $684 per week ($35,568 annually) are entitled to overtime. Overall eligibility for overtime pay depends on job duties and the nature of the business.

      More information on exemptions and exceptions from overtime can be found in this Iowa Overtime Laws article.

      When do I qualify for overtime pay in Iowa?

      In Iowa, employees who work over 40 hours per week are entitled to overtime pay at a rate of ‘time-and-a-half’ for each additional hour worked. Hours cannot be averaged over multiple workweeks; A “workweek” is defined as “a regularly recurring period of time within a 168-hour period of seven consecutive 24-hour days.” 

      Not all employees can qualify for overtime pay. Federal overtime provisions, as outlined in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), make an exception for employees in executive or administrative roles who earn over $684 per week ($35,568 annually).

      How much is overtime pay in Iowa?

      In Iowa, most hourly employees are entitled to overtime pay at a rate of time-and-a-half for hours worked over 40 in a single workweek, as defined by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Iowa adopts the FLSA overtime statutes without additional state restrictions.

      The overtime pay rate is one-and-a-half times the employee’s regular hourly wage. This means that, for example, an employee with a standard hourly wage of $23 would have an overtime rate of $34.50 per hour. For those earning the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, the overtime rate is $10.88 per hour.

      Which laws govern overtime in Iowa?

      Iowa does not have state-specific overtime laws, so the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) applies. Under the FLSA, non-exempt employees must be paid time and a half for any hours worked over 40 in a workweek. Key rules include:

      • Non-exempt employees receive overtime for hours over 40 in a single workweek.
      • The overtime rate is 1.5 times the regular pay rate.
      • Overtime pay is not required for weekends, nights, or holidays unless those hours exceed 40 in a week.
      • There is no maximum limit on the number of hours an employee can be required to work.
      • A workweek is a fixed 168-hour period (seven consecutive 24-hour days) and does not need to align with the traditional calendar week. Employers can set different workweeks for different employees.

      Common Questions About Overtime in Iowa

      Do employers have to pay overtime in Iowa?

      Yes, employers subject to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) are legally required to pay non-exempt employees for all overtime hours worked. The FLSA covers most employers, including those with annual sales of at least $500,000 or those involved in interstate commerce. The definition of “interstate commerce” is broad and includes activities such as telephone communications, mail correspondence, or handling goods bound for other states. It is therefore rare for an organization to be exempt from the FLSA and its overtime requirements, even among small businesses.

      Can an employee refuse to work overtime in Iowa?

      In Iowa, as in most states, an employee can generally be required to work overtime if their employer requests it. However, there are a few considerations:

      • Employment Contracts or Union Agreements: If an employee is covered by an employment contract or a collective bargaining agreement, there may be specific terms regarding overtime work. These agreements might include provisions that allow employees to refuse overtime under certain conditions.
      • Safety and Health Concerns: In some cases, employees might refuse to work overtime if they believe it poses a risk to their health or safety, though this should be communicated to the employer, and ideally documented.
      • Reasonable Accommodation: If an employee needs to refuse overtime work due to a disability, they may request a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Employers are required to accommodate such requests unless it causes undue hardship to the business.

      Can I take comp time instead of overtime pay in Iowa?

      In Iowa, compensatory time (“comp time”) is an alternative to overtime pay, allowing employees to take time off instead of receiving extra pay for hours worked over 40 in a workweek. Regular full-time employees can accumulate up to 80 hours of comp time, while part-time employees can accumulate up to 60 hours (three-quarter-time) or 40 hours (half-time). Any hours exceeding these limits must be compensated with overtime pay.

      For public employees, comp time is governed by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and administrative codes. The key conditions include:

      • Employees can choose between overtime pay or comp time unless the employer mandates overtime pay.
      • Employees can accrue up to 80 hours of comp time before it must be paid out.
      • Comp time can be carried over to the next year or paid out at any time.
      • Upon separation, transfer, or job change within the same company, the monetary value of accrued comp time must be paid at the higher of the employee’s average regular rate over the last three years or their final regular rate.
      • Comp time payments are made at the employee’s regular rate at the time of payment.

      Can I get overtime pay in Iowa without employer approval?

      Yes, a non-exempt employee in Iowa can be paid for overtime work even if they did not receive prior approval. According to the federal FLSA, “work not requested but suffered or permitted is work time.” Employers must pay for extra hours worked if they knew or should have known about it. However, employees should not intentionally conceal overtime work from their employer. Employees may still face disciplinary action for working overtime without prior approval, including demotion or termination. 

      Does Iowa have double-time pay?

      No, Iowa does not have state laws requiring double-time pay for specific hours or days worked. Similarly, there are no federal laws or FLSA provisions mandating double-time pay. While employers can choose to offer double-time pay through their own agreements, it is not legally required.

      What is working ‘off-the-clock’ in Iowa?

      Working ‘off-the-clock’ refers to when an employee performs job duties without receiving compensation, despite the employer’s knowledge. These unpaid hours are not included in the employee’s workweek calculations, allowing employers to avoid paying overtime. Examples include working through meal or rest breaks, pre-shift preparations, post-shift tasks like cleaning, and redoing work.

      In Iowa, it is illegal for employers to require off-the-clock work, as this violates federal wage and hour laws such as the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Employees have the right to be compensated for all work performed.

      What are common ways employers avoid paying overtime in Iowa?

      Some employers in Iowa may employ illegal practices to avoid paying overtime, which violates state and federal labor laws. It’s important to recognize these tactics to prevent worker exploitation: 

      • Misclassifying Employees: Employers may incorrectly classify non-exempt employees as exempt by labeling them as managers or independent contractors.
      • Failing to Pay for All Hours Worked: Employers might not count hours spent on pre- or post-shift tasks, traveling between job sites, or mandatory training.
      • Encouraging Off-the-Clock Work: Employers may encourage employees to perform tasks like answering emails, finishing paperwork, or setting up without clocking in.
      • Averaging Hours Worked: To avoid overtime payments, some employers average hours over two weeks, for example when an employee works 45 hours one week and 35 the next.
      • Altering Work Schedules: Employers may illegally change or manipulate time records to show fewer hours worked to avoid paying overtime.
      • Offering Compensatory Time: Some employers offer compensatory time off instead of paying overtime, which is not allowed for non-exempt employees in the private sector under the FLSA.
      • Failing to Pay for Short Breaks: Short breaks under 20 minutes should be counted as work hours under the FLSA, but some employers do not count them.
      • Not Paying for Unauthorized Overtime: Employers must pay for any overtime worked, even if it was not pre-approved.
      • Compelling Work During Breaks: Employers may pressure employees to work during meal or rest breaks without compensation.

      Can you work seven days in a row in Iowa?

      Yes, you can work seven days in a row in Iowa. Some state labor laws, known as “One Day Rest in Seven” laws, limit the number of consecutive days an employee can be required to work, but only a few states have such regulations.

      As there is no federal or state law restricting the number of days an employee can work consecutively, employees can agree to work many days in a row. While the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not prohibit 7-day workweeks, it does mandate overtime pay for when a 40-hour threshold is reached, ensuring that employees are fairly compensated for these extra work hours.

      How many ten-hour days can you work in a row in Iowa?

      In Iowa, there are no specific state laws limiting the number of consecutive ten-hour days an employee can work. Iowa follows federal regulations under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which does not impose a limit on the number of consecutive days an employee can work.

      However, under the FLSA, non-exempt employees must be paid overtime at a rate of one-and-a-half times their regular hourly rate for any hours worked over 40 in a workweek. Employers are generally free to schedule employees for consecutive ten-hour days as long as they comply with overtime pay requirements.

      What are full-time hours in Iowa?

      The Iowa Department of Administrative Services defines full-time as 30 or more hours of work per week. This aligns with the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) definition of full-time employment, which also specifies that if an employee works a minimum of 130 hours per month they also qualify as a full-time worker. 

      How many hours straight can you legally work in Iowa?

      In Iowa, there are no laws limiting the number of hours most employees can work, meaning individuals could potentially work up to 24 hours per day. However, specific restrictions apply to minors. For 14- and 15-year-olds, work is allowed between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. (until 9 p.m. during summer). They can work up to 4 hours on school days, 8 hours on non-school days, 28 hours per week during the school term, and 40 hours per week during school breaks. They must also receive a 30-minute break for every 5 hours worked. For 16- and 17-year-olds, there are no limitations on working hours.

      Is overtime after eight hours or 40 hours in Iowa?

      In Iowa, overtime is calculated based on hours worked over 40 in a workweek, not on a daily basis. There are no state or federal provisions requiring overtime pay for working more than eight hours in a single day. According to both federal law under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and state law, non-exempt employees must be paid overtime at a rate of one-and-a-half times their regular hourly wage for these extra hours. 

      Does working on the weekend qualify for overtime pay in Iowa?

      No, working on the weekend does not automatically entitle an employee in Iowa to receive overtime pay. There are no special rules for working on Saturdays, Sundays, or holidays. Standard overtime rules apply, meaning employees must be paid overtime only after exceeding 40 hours in a workweek. If an eligible employee has already worked 40 hours before the weekend, any additional weekend hours will be considered overtime. Employers can set different workweeks for employees, so it’s important to know your schedule to calculate overtime correctly.

      How many hours-off between shifts is required in Iowa?

      There are no requirements set out in federal or Iowa laws stating that employees should receive a specific amount of time-off between consecutive shifts.

      However, certain regulated industries impose limitations on daily working hours or require a designated period of rest between shifts. Workers covered by union agreements may also have provisions in their collective bargaining agreements that dictate time off between shifts.

      Furthermore, Iowa’s employment laws for minors outline specific requirements, which employers must follow. Employees under 18 years old cannot:

      • Work for more than eight hours per day.
      • Work for more than 40 hours a week.
      • Work more than six consecutive days in a week.

      What does ‘hours-worked’ include in Iowa?

      ‘Hours worked’ encompasses all the time an employee is at their workplace or on duty. In specific circumstances, activities like commuting, meal breaks, or rest breaks might be considered part of these hours worked. Both federal and state laws require employers to compensate their employees for all hours worked.

      • Meal breaks: Bona fide meal periods of 30 minutes or more where the employee is completely relieved from duty are not considered work time. If the employee is required to perform any duties during a meal period, the entire time must be counted as work time.
      • Rest breaks: Rest periods of 20 minutes or less are counted as work time and must be paid. Unauthorized extensions of rest periods are not counted as work time if the employer has clearly communicated the length of breaks and the consequences of extending them.
      • Emails, Phone Calls, Remote Access: Time spent checking, creating, or responding to work-related emails or phone calls outside regular work hours is considered work time.
      • Lectures, Meetings, Training Programs: Attendance at these events is considered work time unless it is outside normal hours, voluntary, not job-related, and no other work is performed concurrently.
      • Conferences: Time at required events involving training or a speaker is considered work time. Optional social events or meals without work activities are not.
      • Travel time:
        • Travel during the workday between job sites is considered work time.
        • Travel for a special one-day assignment in another city is work time, minus normal commuting time.
        • Travel that keeps an employee away from home overnight is work time if it cuts across the employee’s workday.
        • Travel hours are always considered work time for drivers.
        • For passengers, travel during normal working hours is work time, but travel outside normal working hours is not unless engaged in work activities.
        • Airline Travel: Includes time from arrival at the airport until reaching the destination, but normal commuting time between home and work, or between the hotel and worksite, is not compensated.

      What is the most hours a salaried employee can work in Iowa? 

      In Iowa, salaried employees can work up to 40 hours in a workweek, with non-exempt salaried employees receiving overtime pay at 1.5 times their regular rate for hours beyond 40. There are no state or federal laws limiting the hours salaried employees can work, leaving employers to set their hours. Salaried employees are generally expected to complete all tasks in their employment contract without a fixed number of hours. Employees should keep accurate records of their work hours and may file a wage claim if their calculated earnings fall below the minimum wage per hour.

      What is the maximum number of hours an hourly employee can work in Iowa?

      For most hourly employees in Iowa, there is no limit on the number of hours they can work, unless otherwise specified by an employment agreement or contract. While many employers provide rest and meal breaks for health and safety reasons, Iowa does not impose a strict maximum limit on the number of hours most adults can work in a week. However, employers must pay overtime for hours worked over 40 in a week, with exceptions based on the type of employment or industry, and salary exceeding  $684 per week ($35,568 annually).

      As for minors, there are limitations regarding the number of hours they can work. 14-15-year-olds who attend school can work a maximum of 4 hours on a school day and 8 hours on a non-school day. During the school term, they can work up to 28 hours per week. There are no restrictions on working hours for minors aged 16-17. 

      Overtime Eligibility in Iowa

      Who is eligible for overtime pay in Iowa?

      In Iowa, eligibility for overtime pay depends on job duties and the industry of employment. Employees are classified as either exempt or non-exempt from overtime pay under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). 

      The FLSA mandates overtime for specific jobs, including first responders (police, paramedics, firefighters), practical nurses, and paralegals, who are protected due to the long hours they often work. Employees in non-exempt industries earning less than $684 per week ($35,568 annually) are also entitled to overtime. Whereas, exempt employees do not receive overtime pay, regardless of their weekly hours.

      Who is exempt from overtime pay in Iowa?

      While most Iowa workers are entitled to overtime pay, exceptions exist for executive, administrative, professional, and outside sales positions, provided they meet specific salary and duty requirements. The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) defines several categories of employees who are exempt from overtime pay. These exemptions include:

      • Executives, Administrators, and Professionals: Earning at least $684 per week, involved in management or professional duties.
      • External Salespeople: Primarily working outside their employer’s premises.
      • Computer-Related Workers: Including systems analysts, programmers, and software engineers meeting specific criteria.
      • Independent Contractors
      • Transportation Workers
      • Certain Agricultural and Farm Workers
      • Live-in Employees: Such as housekeepers.

      Further information on jobs which are categorised as exempt as well as specific regulations that apply can be found on the official US Department of Labor website. 

      Can salaried employees get overtime pay in Iowa?

      Yes, while some salaried employees in Iowa are not eligible for overtime, many receive overtime pay or compensatory time for working over 40 hours in a week. According to federal overtime laws, the following categories of salaried employees are exempt from overtime pay:

      • Salaried Executive, Administrative, or Professional Employees: Those who meet the FLSA criteria for executive, administrative, and professional roles are not eligible for overtime.
      • Computer Professionals: Including computer systems analysts, programmers, and software engineers who meet FLSA criteria.
      • Outside Salespersons: Sales employees who primarily work outside their employer’s premises.
      • Agricultural Workers: Some agricultural employees may be exempt from overtime based on the nature of their work and the size of their employer.

      For more information about Iowa Salaried Employees Laws, read our detailed guide. 

      Overtime Payment Calculations in Iowa

      What is my regular rate of pay in Iowa?

      In Iowa, the regular rate of pay is the hourly compensation an employee receives and must be at least the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Employers with at least $300,000 in annual sales must adhere to the Iowa Minimum Wage Law, though certain entities like public agencies, construction firms, hospitals, and educational institutions must comply regardless of revenue. Iowa allows a reduced “initial employment wage” of $6.35 per hour for the first 90 days, different from the federal “training wage.” 

      Employees compensated on an hourly basis will use this as their regular rate of pay. For those on salary, piece-rate, or commission, the regular rate is calculated differently:

      Salaried Employees:

      1. Multiply the monthly salary by 12 to get the annual salary.
      2. Divide the annual salary by 52 to determine the weekly salary.
      3. To find the regular hourly rate, divide the weekly salary by 40 (the standard number of hours in a workweek).

      Piecework or Commission Employees:

      • Divide the total earnings for the week by the number of hours worked to find the regular rate.

      For Group Work:

      1. Calculate the group rate by dividing the total number of pieces completed by the number of individuals in the group.
      2. Multiply this rate by the number of hours each individual worked to calculate their regular rate of pay.

      How do you calculate overtime in Iowa?

      In Iowa, following federal regulations, overtime pay is calculated at one-and-a-half times the employee’s regular rate of pay, often referred to as ‘time-and-a-half.’ Non-exempt employees qualify for this overtime rate once they exceed 40 hours in a workweek.

      To calculate an employee’s overtime compensation, you should:

      • Determine the employee’s regular rate of pay.
      • Multiply the regular rate by 1.5 to find the hourly overtime rate.
      • Multiply this hourly overtime rate by the total hours worked beyond 40 to calculate the total overtime pay due.

      How is overtime taxed in Iowa?

      In Iowa, overtime pay is subject to regular income tax rates, with no special taxes applied to it specifically. The amount of tax you pay is based on your tax bracket, which is determined by your taxable income and filing status. However, if the additional income from overtime significantly boosts your total income, it could push you into a higher tax bracket. As a result, you would owe more taxes on all of your income, not just the overtime. It’s important to note that entering a higher tax bracket would only affect the pay period during which the extra income was earned, making it a temporary change.

      Receiving Overtime Payment in Iowa

      How is overtime paid in Iowa?

      In Iowa, overtime wages should be paid using the same method as regular wages. Employers may pay by direct deposit, provided there are no charges for it. Payment by debit card is also permissible if the employee consents in writing, can access their full wages on or before payday without fees, and the number of free transactions per pay period is adequate relative to their pay and the card’s limits.

      Employers must also provide a pay statement or ‘pay stub’ each payday that details the employee’s hours worked, wages earned, and deductions. This statement can be delivered by mail, secure electronic transmission, at the workplace during normal hours, or electronically with provisions for printing at no cost.

      When do I receive my overtime paycheck in Iowa?

      Employers in Iowa are required to pay their employees at least monthly, semimonthly, or biweekly, with paydays regularly scheduled. Wages must be paid within 12 days (excluding Sundays and holidays) after the pay period ends, unless there is a written agreement between the employer and employee stating otherwise. Employers are obligated to establish these regular paydays and ensure timely payment. If an employer does not pay wages by the next regular payday, the employee has the right to file a wage claim with the Iowa Division of Labor. 

      Violations of Overtime Law in Iowa

      What if my employer refuses to pay me overtime in Iowa?

      If you believe you are owed wages up to $6,500, you can file a wage claim with the Iowa Division of Labor by printing a Wage Claim form or requesting one via phone at 515-725-5619. Additionally, you have the option to pursue your claim independently in court. For issues related to federal minimum wage or overtime, you can contact the US Department of Labor, Wage & Hour Division at 515-284-4625. The statute of limitations for filing an overtime wage complaint is two years, which extends to three years if the employer knowingly and willfully violated overtime regulations.

      What is the penalty for failing to pay overtime in Iowa?

      In Iowa, employers who pay less than the required overtime compensation must pay the affected employee the full amount of unpaid overtime wages plus additional damages. According to the US Department of Labor, employers who willfully or repeatedly violate the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) by failing to pay proper overtime wages may face civil penalties of up to $1,000 for each violation. Intentional violations can lead to criminal charges, with possible fines up to $10,000, and repeat offenses could result in imprisonment.

      How can I file a wage claim for overtime in Iowa?

      Filing a wage claim can help you recover unpaid overtime that you are legally entitled to. It’s important to act within the statute of limitations, which is generally two years for unpaid wages, but can extend to three years for willful violations.

      To file a wage claim for unpaid overtime in Iowa, you can follow these steps to initiate the process through the Iowa Division of Labor: 

      • Obtain the Form: Download a wage claim form from the Iowa Division of Labor’s website. Alternatively, you can request that a form be mailed to you by contacting the Iowa Division of Labor directly. 
      • Complete the Form: Fill out the wage claim form, providing details such as your employer’s name and contact information, the amount of overtime pay you believe you are owed, and the hours worked that were not compensated correctly. 
      • Gather Documentation: Support your claim with any relevant documentation. This could include pay stubs, timesheets, employment contracts, and any correspondence with your employer regarding your wages. 
      • Submit the Form: Once you have completed the form and gathered your documentation, submit the form to the Iowa Division of Labor. You can do this by mailing the form to their office. 

      If you encounter difficulties in the process or need further guidance, consider seeking legal advice. Additionally, if your claim involves violations of federal wage laws, contact the US Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division at 515-284-4625 for further assistance.

      Can employers retaliate against employees for making a wage claim in Iowa?

      No, employers in Iowa cannot legally retaliate against employees for making a wage claim. If an employee in Iowa files a wage claim because they believe they have not been paid correctly, they are protected from retaliation including termination, demotion, salary reduction, or any other type of disciplinary action taken as a result of their claim. 

      If retaliation occurs, the employee may have grounds for additional legal action against the employer, under the FLSA.  Employees who experience retaliation should report the incident to the Iowa Division of Labor or the US Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division.

      Learn more about Iowa Labor Laws through our detailed guide.

      Important Cautionary Note

      This content is provided for informational purposes only. While we make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information presented, we cannot guarantee that it is free of errors or omissions. Users are advised to independently verify any critical information and should not solely rely on the content provided.