Ask Leslie: How Should I Manage An Employee Who Constantly Works Overtime?

By Leslie Zieren, The McCalmon Group, Inc.

Dear Leslie:

I have an excellently performing non-exempt employee, except for one thing. There isn't a week that goes by that she doesn't log overtime hours – usually five and sometimes as many as eight. I've asked her to refrain from doing so, but she only refrains for a couple of weeks and then we are right back into the issue. What can I do?

Signed: Darryl


Dear Darryl:

First, do you have an accurate timekeeping system, such as an online software or a punch time clock? It is a best practice to review each nonexempt employee's time record every week for accuracy. This way you can have them verify its correctness, and you can use the weekly review to discuss issues like this before they get out of hand.

Second, do you have a written policy in your handbook regarding overtime? You should. It could state that no employee is permitted to work overtime without prior written permission from you or a designated manager. Failure to comply will lead to discipline, up to, and including, termination. Although unauthorized overtime must be paid, if it is worked in violation of your policy, it can be managed as a disciplinary issue.

Third, have you and the employee discussed the employee's workload? Perhaps the employee has too much on their plate to possibly accomplish within a 40-hour workweek. You state the employee is an excellent performer, so her productivity is exactly what you need, but does the cost of overtime justify the results or could another employee, who perhaps isn't working to their maximum, take on some tasks?

Finally, always seek advice from your local employment law counsel when drafting and enforcing policies.

Jack McCalmon and Leslie Zieren are attorneys with more than 50 years combined experience assisting employers in lowering their risk, including answering questions, like the one above, through the McCalmon Group's Best Practices Help Line. The Best Practice Help Line is a service of The McCalmon Group, Inc. Your organization may have access to The Best Practice Help Line or a similar service from another provider at no cost to you or at a discount. For questions about The Best Practice Help Line or what similar services are available to you via this Platform, call 888.712.7667.

If you have a question that you would like Jack McCalmon or Leslie Zieren to consider for this column, please submit it to Please note that The McCalmon Group cannot guarantee that your question will be answered. Answers are based on generally accepted risk management best practices. They are not, and should not be considered, legal advice. If you need an answer immediately or desire legal advice, please call your local legal counsel.


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