Rafting guides on West Virginia's Lower New River Gorge have a demanding job. They must safely navigate clients down churning water on trips that can last up to 48 hours. A couple trips running back to back could add up to some significant overtime. Unfortunately for river guides, West Virginia law specifically exempts them from overtime pay.
But while the average West Virginia employee is eligible for overtime pay, there are a number of exceptions to how and when these laws apply. If you work in the state, you owe it to yourself to understand the basics of West Virginia overtime laws.
West Virginia Overtime Law Summary
This chart highlights key provisions of West Virginia overtime law.
|State and Federal Statutes|
|West Virginia Overtime Rules||
|Jobs Not Entitled to Overtime||
|Filing a Wage Complaint|
Note: State laws are subject to change. It's important to verify the laws you read about by conducting your own research or consulting with a qualified West Virginia employment attorney.
West Virginia Overtime Laws
West Virginia employers with six or more employees (including the owner and/or manager) must pay an overtime rate of 1.5 times an employee's regular rate for hours worked beyond 40 in a work week. West Virginia drafted its overtime law to protect employees who may not be covered by federal overtime protections. Federal laws extend to businesses that make more than $500,000 in annual gross sales or are engaged in interstate commerce.
There are exceptions to West Virginia's overtime coverage, including the following:
Federal Overtime Law in West Virginia
Federal overtime law is known as the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Much like the state law, it requires overtime pay when a "non-exempt" employee works more than 40 hours in a workweek. West Virginia employers must follow both state and federal overtime rules. When differences exist between the two sets of rules, the rule that gives the most benefits to workers is applied.
Who is an Exempt Employee?
An exempt employee is not covered by the FLSA, and is not eligible for overtime. For an employee to be considered exempt, their specific job duties and salary must meet all the requirements set by the U.S. Department of Labor.
For example, an exempt professional employee includes lawyers, physicians, teachers, architects, registered nurses and other employees performing work that requires advanced education or training. This exemption does not include skilled trades, mechanical arts, or other work that does not require a college or postgraduate degree. The following types of employees are frequently exempt from state and federal overtime rules:
West Virginia Nurse Overtime Act
In the interest of public safety, West Virginia law requires a nurse who works 12 or more consecutive hours to have at least an eight-hour off duty immediately following their shift. Plus, no nurse is permitted to work more than 16 hours in any 24-hour period. Exceptions are allowed for:
Comp Time is Not Legal for Most Employees
When an employee works beyond 40 hours in a work week and banks those extra hours as paid time off to be used later, it is referred to as compensatory (or "comp") time. Comp time is earned at a rate of 1.5 hours of comp time for every hour of overtime worked. It can only be granted at the employee's request, not the employers. In West Virginia, only government employees can take comp time. Compensatory time off in lieu of overtime pay is not allowed for businesses or enterprises subject to the FLSA.
Counting Your Hours in a Workweek
For overtime purposes, a work week is a fixed schedule of a continuous seven days. It does not have to be Sunday to Saturday. It can start on any day of the week and end seven consecutive days later. Any hours worked beyond 40 in this work week are subject to overtime pay.
Get a Free Review of Your Overtime Issue
If your employer isn't properly applying overtime law, you could be losing hundreds, or even thousands of dollars, from your paychecks. You have two years to file a claim for unpaid overtime. An experienced West Virginia attorney can help you recover lost wages and damages caused by a denial of overtime pay. Get started today with a free claim review to learn more about your rights under West Virginia law.
Contact a qualified attorney.