Compliance Watch:
What are my overtime rights in Wisconsin?

July 6th 2024

Overtime laws are designed to protect employees from being overworked without adequate compensation. Hence, understanding your rights regarding overtime is crucial for ensuring fair compensation for your work.

Both federal and state regulations govern employees’ overtime rights in Wisconsin which employers must adhere to. This guide provides an overview of your overtime rights in Wisconsin, helping employees understand their entitlements and responsibilities as employees.

This Article Covers

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

      Understanding Overtime in Wisconsin

      Is overtime pay mandatory in Wisconsin?

      In Wisconsin, employers are required to provide overtime pay under federal law to non-exempt employees who work more than 40 hours in a workweek. This pay is calculated at one and a half times the regular hourly rate. Wisconsin state law aligns with these federal regulations, ensuring that employees receive fair compensation for their additional hours of work.

      When do I qualify for overtime pay in Wisconsin?

      Under federal law, you qualify for overtime pay in Wisconsin if you are a non-exempt employee and work more than 40 hours in a workweek. Overtime is calculated at a rate of one and a half times your regular hourly wage. It is important to note that some employees may be exempt from these overtime requirements based on their job duties, salary level, and other factors outlined in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

      How much is overtime pay in Wisconsin?

      As mandated by the FLSA, overtime pay in Wisconsin is calculated at one and a half times the regular hourly rate for non-exempt employees who work more than 40 hours in a workweek.

      Which laws govern overtime in Wisconsin?

      • Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA): The FLSA is a federal law that sets certain labor standards that apply to most employers in the United States, including those in Wisconsin. Under the FLSA, non-exempt employees must be paid overtime at a rate of one and one-half times their regular rate of pay for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek. Certain employees may be exempt from overtime pay, including those in executive, administrative, professional, and certain other roles.
      • Wisconsin Statutes § 103.025: Wisconsin state law complements the federal law by also requiring employers to pay overtime at one and a half times the regular rate for hours worked over 40 in a workweek. Additionally, state law may have specific provisions and exemptions that apply to certain types of employment or sectors.

      Common Questions About Overtime in Wisconsin

      Do employers have to pay overtime in Wisconsin?

      Yes, employers in Wisconsin are required to pay overtime to non-exempt employees who work more than 40 hours in a workweek. This requirement is established by the FLSA, which mandates overtime pay at a rate of 1.5 times the regular hourly rate.

      Can an employee refuse to work overtime in Wisconsin?

      The ability of an employee to refuse to work overtime in Wisconsin generally depends on the policies of the employer and the terms of any employment agreements or union contracts. Employers have the legal right to require employees to work overtime as needed, and in this case, you cannot refuse to work overtime. Refusal may lead to disciplinary actions. However, if there is an employment contract or collective bargaining agreement in place, it may specify conditions under which overtime can be required or refused. Employees should review employment agreements to understand their rights and obligations.

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

      Wisconsin follows the overtime regulations established by the FLSA. Under the FLSA, private sector employers are prohibited from providing overtime time off (comp time) instead of receiving overtime pay at 1.5 times the employee’s hourly wage. However, employers may offer compensatory time as an additional company benefit.

      Public sector employees may be eligible for comp time instead of overtime pay under certain conditions. The comp time must be provided at a rate of one and a half hours for each hour of overtime worked.

      Can I get overtime pay in Wisconsin without employer approval?

      Overtime work requires prior approval from the employer before the employee works the overtime hours. However, if an employee works unauthorized overtime hours, the employer is still required to pay the employee for the additional hours worked. However, the employer may also take disciplinary action against the employee for working unauthorized overtime.

      If your employer refuses to pay for overtime work you have performed, you may file a complaint with the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development.

      Does Wisconsin have double-time pay?

      Wisconsin law does not mandate double-time pay for any hours worked. The requirement for overtime pay is based on federal guidelines under the FLSA, which requires non-exempt employees to be paid at a rate of 1.5 times their regular hourly rate for any hours worked over 40 in a workweek.

      Double-time pay is a practice where employees are paid twice their regular hourly rate for certain hours worked, such as holidays or exceeding a specific threshold. While not required by law, some employers may choose to offer double-time pay as part of their company policies or labor agreements.

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

      Working ‘off-the-clock’ in Wisconsin refers to any time that an employee spends performing work-related activities for which they are not compensated. This can include tasks such as answering emails, taking work-related calls, or completing assignments outside of regular working hours without receiving overtime pay or even regular pay for those hours worked. Under state and federal laws, all hours worked must be compensated, unless the employee is classified as exempt from overtime pay.

      What are common ways employers avoid paying overtime in Wisconsin?

      Employers in Wisconsin may attempt to avoid paying overtime through various practices, some of which may be illegal or unethical. Common ways include:

      • Misclassifying employees as exempt from overtime pay by incorrectly labeling them as exempt, salaried, managerial, or independent contractors when they should be classified as non-exempt employees.
      • Encouraging or requiring employees to work off-the-clock without recording these hours, such as asking them to prepare before the shift starts or finish tasks after clocking out.
      • Refusing to pay for overtime hours that were not pre-approved, even though employees are legally entitled to be paid for all hours worked.
      • Manipulating time records to reduce the number of hours worked, such as rounding down hours or altering time cards to avoid paying overtime.
      • Offering compensatory time off (comp time) instead of paying overtime, which is prohibited for private sectors under the FLSA rules.

      Can you work seven days in a row in Wisconsin?

      In Wisconsin, there are regulations regarding One Day of Rest in Seven for certain types of employees, particularly those working in factory or retail establishments. Employees in factory or retail establishments must receive at least one day off (24 consecutive hours) per calendar week (Sunday through Saturday) unless certain exceptions apply. The law does not require this rest period if:

      • The employee voluntarily agrees in writing to work without a day off for seven consecutive days.
      • The employee falls under specific exemptions such as janitors, watchmen, dairy product manufacturers, canneries, bakers, hotel and restaurant employees with limited Sunday duties, and certain emergency-related roles.
      • Certain supervisory roles and employees in paper and pulp mills who are engaged in essential maintenance or repairs on Sundays may be exempt from the one-day rest requirement.

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

      In Wisconsin, the number of consecutive ten-hour days you can work depends on specific legal and regulatory requirements, particularly the “One Day of Rest in Seven” law. This law mandates that employees in factory or retail establishments must receive at least one day off (24 consecutive hours) per calendar week (Sunday through Saturday) unless an exception applies. This means that, under normal circumstances, you can work up to six ten-hour days in a row before a mandatory day off is required. However, employers are allowed to schedule work for up to 12 consecutive days within a two-week period if the days of rest fall on the first and last days of that period.

      What are full-time hours in Wisconsin?

      There is no specific definition of full-time hours in Wisconsin. The determination of full-time employment depends on the policies and practices of employers or industry standards. Many employers define full-time hours based on their policies which may vary by industry. Commonly, full-time employment is considered 40 hours per week. Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), for purposes of offering health and benefits, “full-time” employment is defined as averaging at least 30 hours of service per week. In addition, individual employment contracts may specify full-time hours and associated benefits for employees.

      How many hours straight can you legally work in Wisconsin?

      While there is no strict legal limit on the number of consecutive hours that can be worked in a single shift, the requirement for overtime pay and mandatory rest periods provides some protection to workers. Employers are also encouraged to consider the health and safety implications of long work hours.

      Is overtime after eight hours or 40 hours in Wisconsin?

      Overtime in Wisconsin is calculated for all hours worked after 40 hours in a workweek. This means that if you work more than 40 hours in a single workweek, you are entitled to overtime pay. However, there is an exception to this, under the Wisconsin Employment of Minors regulation, 16 and 17-year-old minors must receive overtime pay for all hours worked in excess of 10 hours per day or 40 hours per week.

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

      Working on a weekend alone does not trigger overtime pay unless the total hours worked in the workweek exceed 40 hours. For example, if you work 32 hours Monday through Friday, and an additional 10 hours on Saturday and Sunday, the 10 hours on the weekend would be considered overtime hours.

      How many hours off between shifts is required in Wisconsin?

      For most employees, no state law requires a specific number of hours off between shifts. Employers are generally free to schedule shifts as they see fit, provided they comply with overtime pay requirements and other labor laws. Wisconsin’s “One Day of Rest in Seven” law mandates that employees in factory or retail establishments receive at least one full day (24 consecutive hours) of rest per calendar week unless an exception applies.

      What does ‘hours worked’ include in Wisconsin?

      In Wisconsin, ‘hours worked’ includes all the time an employee is required to be on duty, on the employer’s premises, or at any prescribed workplace, as well as additional time they are permitted to work. Here are the components of what constitutes ‘hours worked’:

      • Time spent performing job duties and tasks, whether during regular hours or overtime.
      • Time spent on activities that are integral and indispensable to the principal activities, such as setting up equipment, donning and doffing specialized gear, or cleaning up after work.
      • Time spent on-call if the employee is required to remain on the employer’s premises or so close that they cannot use the time effectively for their own purposes.
      • Short rest breaks (usually 5 to 20 minutes) are generally counted as hours worked. Bona fide meal periods (typically 30 minutes or more) are not considered hours worked if the employee is completely relieved from duty during the meal period.
      • Time spent in training, attending meetings, or participating in work-related seminars must be counted as hours worked unless all of the following criteria are met: the event is outside regular working hours, attendance is voluntary, the event is not job-related, and no productive work is performed during the event.
      • Time spent traveling during the workday as part of the job duties is considered hours worked.
      • Time spent waiting while on duty or while required to remain on the employer’s premises is counted as hours worked.

      What is the maximum number of hours a salaried employee can work in Wisconsin? 

      There is no specific state law that sets the maximum number of hours a salaried employee can work in a day or week. The determination of work hours for salaried employees often depends on the terms of their employment contract, company policies, or industry standards. Employers may have internal policies that govern work hours, breaks, and rest periods for salaried employees.

      Learn more about Your Rights as a Salaried Employee in Wisconsin.

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

      There is no specific state law that sets the maximum number of hours an hourly employee can work in a day or week for adult employees in most industries. However, the federal law requires employers to pay overtime for hours worked over 40 in a workweek. Wisconsin does have specific regulations for employees under the age of 18, including limits on hours worked per day and required rest breaks.

      Learn more about Your Rights as an Hourly Employee in Wisconsin.

      Overtime Eligibility in Wisconsin

      Who is eligible for overtime pay in Wisconsin?

      Eligibility for overtime pay in Wisconsin follows the guidelines established by the FLSA. Under the FLSA, the following groups of employees are eligible for overtime pay:

      • Non-exempt employees: Most employees who do not fall into the exempt categories defined by the FLSA are eligible for overtime pay. This includes hourly workers and certain salaried employees.
      • Hourly workers: Employees paid on an hourly basis are usually non-exempt and therefore eligible for overtime pay for hours worked over 40 in a workweek.
      • Certain salaried employees: Some salaried employees may be eligible for overtime pay if they do not meet the criteria for exemption based on their job duties and salary level.

      Eligibility for overtime pay depends on the proper classification of the employee and their job duties. Employers must carefully evaluate these factors to ensure compliance with federal and state laws.

      Who is exempt from overtime pay in Wisconsin?

      In Wisconsin, certain employees are exempt from overtime pay under the FLSA and state regulations. These exemptions are based on job duties, salary levels, and other criteria. Common categories of exempt employees include:

      • Salary Basis: In the newly updated salary exemption threshold that took effect last July 1, 2024, a salaried employee must earn at least $844 weekly or $43,888 annually. Besides meeting the salary threshold, salaried employees must also meet the specific job duties.
      • Executive Employees: Primary duty is managing the enterprise or a recognized department or subdivision. Customarily and regularly directs the work of at least two or more other full-time employees. They also have the authority to hire or fire employees, and their suggestions as to the hiring, firing, advancement, promotions, or any other change of status of other employees are given particular weight.
      • Administrative Employees: Primary duty is performing office or non-manual work directly related to the management or general business of the employer or the employer’s customers.
      • Professional Employees: Primary duty is performing work requiring advanced knowledge, defined as work that is predominantly intellectual in character and which includes work requiring the consistent exercise of discretion and judgment. Advanced knowledge must be in a field of science or learning and customarily acquired by a prolonged course of specialized intellectual instruction.
      • Computer Employees: Employed as a computer systems analyst, computer programmer, software engineer, or other similarly skilled worker in the computer field. Primary duty includes the application of systems analysis techniques and procedures, designing, developing, documenting, analyzing, creating, testing, or modifying computer systems or programs.
      • Outside Sales Employees: Primary duty is making sales or obtaining orders or contracts for services or for the use of facilities for which a consideration will be paid by the client or customer. These employees are customarily and regularly engaged away from the employer’s place or places of business.
      • Highly Compensated Employees: Performs office or non-manual work and pays total annual compensation of $107,432 or more, including at least $684 per week paid on a salary or fee basis. These employees customarily and regularly perform at least one of the duties of an exempt executive, administrative, or professional employee.

      In addition, the Wisconsin overtime laws recognize the following professions not subject to overtime provisions:

      • Drivers, driver’s helpers, loaders, or mechanics of a motor carrier or a private or contract carrier are covered under the Motor Carrier Act.
      • Drivers of taxi cabs.
      • Parts persons, salespersons, service managers, service writers, or mechanics selling or servicing automobiles, trucks, farm implements, trailers, boats, motorcycles, snowmobiles, or other recreational vehicles or aircraft.
      • Employees of an amusement or recreational establishment.
      • Employees employed in agriculture.
      • Employees employed in any motion picture theater.
      • Employees of a hospital or other institutions primarily engaged in the care of the sick, the aged, the mentally ill or persons with developmental disabilities who reside on the premises.
      • Employees employed in any funeral establishment.
      • Employees employed in forestry or lumbering operations.

      Can salaried employees get overtime pay in Wisconsin?

      Yes, salaried employees in Wisconsin can be eligible for overtime pay, depending on their classification under the FLSA. Salaried employees who do not meet the criteria for exemption are considered non-exempt and are eligible for overtime pay. These employees must be paid overtime at one and a half times their regular hourly rate for any hours worked over 40 in a workweek.

      Learn more in detail about Wisconsin Salaried Employees Laws and Wisconsin Overtime Laws.

      Overtime Payment Calculations in Wisconsin

      What is my regular rate of pay in Wisconsin?

      Your regular rate of pay in Wisconsin refers to the hourly rate or salary that you earn for your standard work hours. This rate is used as the basis for calculating overtime pay when you work more than 40 hours in a workweek. Here’s how you can determine your regular pay based on different types of compensation:

      • Hourly Rate: If you are paid an hourly wage, your regular rate of pay is simply your hourly wage.
      • Salary: If you are paid a salary, divide your weekly salary by the number of hours you work in a week to find your regular hourly rate. For example, if you work 40 hours per week and your salary is $600, your regular rate of pay would be $15 per hour ($600 / 40 hours).

      How do you calculate overtime in Wisconsin?

      Calculating overtime pay in Wisconsin follows the guidelines set forth by the FLSA. Here’s how overtime is calculated:

      • Determine the regular rate of pay or hourly rate.
      • Calculate the overtime rate by multiplying your regular hourly rate by 1.5. For example, the employee’s regular hourly rate is $15 per hour, their overtime rate would be $22.50 ($15 x 1.5) per hour.
      • Overtime hours are any hours worked over 40 in a workweek. Regular hours worked up to 40 are paid at the regular rate, while hours worked beyond 40 are paid at the overtime rate.
      • Compute the overtime pay by multiplying the number of overtime hours worked by the overtime rate to determine the total overtime pay. For example, if an employee worked 45 hours in a week at a regular rate of $15 per hour, the calculation would be:

      Overtime pay = Regular rate x 1.5 x Overtime hours = $15 x 1.5 x 5 = $112.50

      How is overtime taxed in Wisconsin?

      In Wisconsin, overtime pay is taxed similarly to regular income, subject to both federal and state income tax rates. Overtime earnings are added to your total income and taxed at your marginal tax rate. Social Security and Medicare taxes (FICA) also apply to overtime pay. Wisconsin uses a progressive state income tax system with rates from 3.54% to 7.56%. Employers withhold the necessary federal and state income taxes, along with FICA taxes, from your paycheck, including on overtime pay.

      Receiving Overtime Payment in Wisconsin

      How is overtime paid in Wisconsin?

      Employers are required to pay employees for overtime hours worked at the agreed-upon wage rate and within the designated pay period. Overtime must be paid at time and one-half the regular rate of pay. Overtime pay is included in the employee’s regular paycheck for the pay period in which the overtime hours were worked. Like regular wages, overtime is paid through direct deposit into your bank account or depending on your employer’s payroll practices.

      In addition, the employee must provide a pay stub stating the hours worked, wages earned, and deductions made from the paycheck.

      When do I receive my overtime paycheck in Wisconsin?

      In Wisconsin, the timing of when you receive your overtime paycheck depends on your employer’s established pay schedule and policies. Employers in Wisconsin are required to set their pay periods that last no longer than 31 days, they may establish more frequent schedules such as weekly, bi-weekly, or semi-monthly. Overtime hours worked within a specific pay period are paid out on the regular payday for that pay period.

      Violations of Overtime Law in Wisconsin

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

      If your employer refuses to pay you overtime in Wisconsin, you should gather all the relevant documents and any communication with your employer about your hours and pay. You can try resolving the issue internally by discussing it with your employer or human resources department. If the internal resolution fails and the employer continues to refuse to pay your overtime, you can file a complaint with the US Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division (WHD) or the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD).

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

      Failing to pay overtime in Wisconsin can result in significant penalties for employers. Employers may be required to pay back wages, liquidated damages, and legal fees and costs. The US Department of Labor may also impose civil penalties for repeated or willful violations of the overtime provisions of the FLSA.

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

      To file a wage claim for unpaid overtime in Wisconsin, start by documenting your hours worked and pay received, including overtime. Attempt to resolve the issue directly with your employer or HR department. If unresolved, complete and submit a wage claim form to the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Equal Rights Division, including supporting documents like pay stubs. The DWD will investigate and may recover unpaid wages on your behalf. If needed, seek legal assistance from an employment lawyer for further action.

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

      In Wisconsin, employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees for making a wage claim or asserting their rights under wage and hour laws. Retaliation can include actions such as termination, demotion, reduction in hours, or any other adverse employment action taken against them in response to their exercise of rights under the law.

      If an employer retaliates against an employee for making a wage claim, the employee may file a retaliation complaint with the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development or the US Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division. Remedies may include reinstatement, back pay, and other appropriate relief.

      Learn more about Wisconsin 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.