During the pandemic I worked at an Amazon Fulfillment Center and at the time staffing was short and Amazon was requiring us to work 6-7 days a week for most of the “peak” season. I was more than frustrated after the second week and started to wonder “is it illegal to work 7 days a week?”. After doing a bit of research, this is what I have found out.
No, it is not illegal for your employer to require you to work 7 days a week if you are considered an exempt employee. Exempt employees are not protected by the Fair Labor Standards Act, which is the federal law that sets guidelines for minimum wage, overtime pay, and other labor standards.
In this article I will be talking about what an exempt an employee is and what options you have as an employee if you’re being required to work 7 days a week.
First, Are You An Exempt or Non-Exempt Employee?
Before you’re able to understand if you’re allowed to work 7 days a week you need to understand a little about what you’re classified as. I’ll give an example of both so it’s a little easier for you to understand before we continue.
The FLSA puts workers into two categories based on their jobs:
- Exempt: These are typically white-collar workers and include executive, administrative, and professional employees. They must also earn a salary of at least $455 per week or $23,660 per year. These employees are not entitled to overtime pay or the minimum wage.
- Non-Exempt: These are typically blue-collar workers and include manual laborers, factory workers, and retail workers. They are entitled to overtime pay and minimum wage standards set by the FLSA.
What Do The States Say?
Now that you’ve been able to figure out if you’re either an exempt or non-exempt employee, you need to know what you’re state says. Below I will have a few examples of states and their respective laws:
- Alabama: No law is in place regarding the maximum number of hours an employee can work per week.
- California: Non-exempt employees cannot work more than 8 hours in a day or more than 40 hours in a week without receiving overtime pay.
- New York: Non-exempt employees cannot work more than 60 hours in a week, unless they receive 1.5 times their regular pay for any hours beyond 40 in a week.
- Texas: No law is in place regarding the maximum number of hours an employee can work per week.
As you can see, not all states have laws in place regarding the maximum number of hours an employee can work in a week. This is where it may
Am I Entitled To Overtime Pay?
If you are a non-exempt employee, which is most likely the case if you’re being required to work 7 days a week, then yes, you are entitled to overtime pay. Overtime is any hours worked beyond 40 in one workweek and is supposed to be paid at 1.5 times your regular hourly rate (aka time and a half).
What Can I Do If My Employer is Requiring Me To Work 7 Days A Week?
If you are a non-exempt employee and your employer is requiring you to work 7 days a week without overtime pay, there are a few options.
First, you can try to negotiate with your employer for overtime pay or more time off in exchange for the extra hours worked. If that is not an option, you may file a complaint with the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division and they will investigate the situation. And lastly, if all else fails, you can always look for a new job where your rights as an employee are being upheld.
Can I Deny Working Overtime?
It’s an incredibly unfortunate situation but if you’re a non-exempt employee, your employer is allowed to require overtime as long as they pay the overtime rate. However, if you are an exempt employee, your employer is not required to provide overtime pay and can require you to work extra hours without additional compensation.
How to Stay Safe When Working 7 Days A Week
If you are required to work 7 days a week, it is important to prioritize your health and well-being.
Here are some really valuable tips to stay healthy:
- Take Breaks & Self Care: Make sure to take breaks throughout the day and prioritize self care activities such as exercise and healthy eating.
- Eat Healthy: It is easy to grab fast food when you’re busy, but try to incorporate fruits and vegetables in your diet.
- Stay Hydrated: Keep a water bottle with you at all times and make sure to drink enough water throughout the day.
- Get Enough Sleep: It might be difficult to prioritize sleep when you feel like you’re on a rat race but make it a habit to get to sleep the same time each night and get enough sleep.
- Seek Support: Talk to your friends and family about the situation or seek professional support if needed.
To summarize, it is not illegal for your employer to require you to work 7 days a week if you are classified as an exempt employee. However, as a non-exempt employee, you are entitled to overtime pay for any hours worked beyond 40 in one workweek. If your employer is not providing this, there are steps you can take such as negotiating with your employer or filing a complaint with the Department of Labor. It is also important to prioritize your health and well-being when working long hours.