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How to Negotiate Overtime Compensation

Whether or not overtime compensation applies directly to your position depends on several factors: your status as a salaried or hourly employee, the federal and state employment laws that apply to your company and your full-time or part-time status. The final employment interview, after it is clear that you will be hired, is the right time to negotiate all of these issues in your best interest.

Negotiate Overtime Compensation Based on Your Employee Status

Clarify the employee status under which you are being hired before you begin negotiations. In most states, every full-time employee is defined either as a salaried employee, exempt from such issues as overtime compensation, or as an hourly employee whose overtime compensation is mandated by law.

Build the concept of overtime compensation directly into your salary negotiations if you are an exempt, salaried employee. You can do this either by raising the ceiling of the salary range that you are negotiating, or by asking that your year-end bonus be structured to reflect your overtime work.

Prepare to negotiate by making sure you are familiar with two things: the overtime compensation law in your state and with your new employer's written policies, if any exist, on overtime compensation. Get a summary of your state's laws on wages and overtime premium wages by reviewing "Minimum Wage Laws in the States" at the U.S. Department of Labor website (see Resources below).

Request the option of taking compensatory time, even if you are a salaried employee, when your hours of work exceed an agreed-upon threshold. Support this request by emphasizing the importance of staying fresh and defining your own ability as a professional to manage your time in the best interests of your employer.

Clarify your employer's rules for hourly employees, with respect to the number of paid hours in the daily and weekly schedule, the point at which overtime compensation is activated and the time scheduled and allotted for lunch and other breaks.

Express your willingness to work overtime if you are fairly compensated, and explain (if this applies) that overtime work may cause extra expense for you when it comes to childcare, commuting costs or other expenses.

Be clear, once you are certain that you are being offered the position, if you must set certain limits on your capacity to work overtime.


Never negotiate away something that is yours by law or under your employer's existing written policies. Most states require employers to pay time-and-a-half to all hourly employees who work over 40 hours, but some employers and some states use a lower weekly threshold of hours.