Frequently Asked Questions about Wages and Overtime
Federal and state laws govern the payment of wages and overtime. The Colorado Wage Act (C.R.S. 8-4-101 et seq.) requires Colorado employers to pay employees their earned wages in a timely manner. The Wage Act is commonly referred to as the Colorado Wage Law or Colorado Wage Claim Act. The law addresses deductions from wages, vacation, commissions, bonuses, final pay, pay periods and paydays, and pay statements.
Here are some questions frequently posed by prospective clients about wages and overtime laws in Colorado:
Q. When does my employer have to pay me?
A. All wages and compensation shall be due and payable on regular paydays no later than ten days following the close of each pay period unless the employer and the employee mutually agree on an alternative period. However, you must be paid at least once a month.
Q. If I’ve been fired when should I get my final paycheck?
A. If your employer terminates your employment, then your employer is required to pay you by the end of the same business day unless at the time of termination the employer’s payroll office is not open, in which case the employer must pay you on the following business day. If the employer’s payroll office is located off site, then the employer shall deliver the check for wages to the terminated employee no later than twenty-four hours after the start of the payroll office’s next regular workday.
Q. If I resign, when am I supposed to get my final paycheck?
A. When you voluntarily leave employment your employer is not required to pay you until your next regularly scheduled payday.
Q. If I haven’t been paid, what can I do?
A. You may need to pursue a claim under the Colorado Wage Act in order to get paid. To do so you must send the employer a written demand for all wages earned within sixty days of the date of termination. You can obtain a Demand for Payment of Wages from the Colorado Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division at (303) 572-2241 or from Denver Employment Lawyer Gregory A. Hall at 303-320-0584. In addition, you may want to report the employer’s violation of the Colorado Wage Act to the Colorado Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division. You may want to send your demand to the employer via certified mail so that you can prove that you sent it and that the employer received it. Under the Colorado Wage Act, employers have 14 days to respond to your written demand.
Q. I sent the Demand but the employer didn’t respond within 14 days, so now what should I do?
A. At this point you may want to contact a Denver Employment Lawyer. If an employer fails to makes a tender offer within the 14-day period, then the employer is deemed to have made a tender offer of $0. If you then sue, and you’re any amount at trial, then the Court can impose penalties and attorney’s fees against the employer. However, this relief is available to you on if you sent the written demand to your former employer within sixty days after the date of separation. Provided you can prove that you sent the demand within sixty days of your separation date, you may be able to recover a penalty in addition to your wages and attorney fees. The penalty is normally the greater of ten days’ pay, or an amount equal to 125% of the first $7,500 owed plus 50% of the remainder of the pay you are owed. The penalty may increase by an additional 50% if the employer willfully withheld your pay.
Q. What deductions can my employer take from my paycheck?
A. Your employer can only make deductions specifically permitted by the Colorado Wage Act. These include automatic deductions under a retirement plan, deductions you have specifically authorized (such as for loans, advances or employee benefits), and, of course taxes and Federal withholdings. An employer may also deduct amounts needed to cover losses from an employee’s failure to return property on termination from employment, or from employee theft, but the employer must follow certain procedures before making deductions based on theft or refusal to return property.
Q. Am I entitled to overtime pay?
The federal law governing the payment of overtime is called the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The FLSA is supplemented by rules promulgated by the U.S. Secretary of Labor. Federal and state laws require most employers to pay overtime to an employee who works more than 40 hours per week. The overtime premium is 50% of the employee’s usual hourly wage. This means an employee who works overtime must be paid “time and a half” for every overtime hour worked. These laws contain many exceptions, so not all employees are entitled to overtime and not all employers are required to pay overtime. Employees who are eligible for overtime are called “non-exempt” employees, and those who are not eligible for overtime are called “exempt” employees, because they are exempt from the wage law. The Act and the rules are lengthy and complicated, but the most common exceptions relate to certain types of employees: professionals, executives, managers, high-level administrators, outside salespeople, and workers in certain specialized industries. Workers within these exceptions are commonly referred to by employers as “exempt.” For example, certain employees working in a “bona fide” executive capacity are not required to receive overtime. Whether an employee is genuinely working in an executive capacity depends in turn on a number of other factors described in the regulations, including the level of responsibility, number of employees supervised, and how the employee is paid.
Q. If I’m paid on a salary basis does that mean I’m not entitled to overtime pay?
A. No. If all an employer had to do to avoid paying overtime were to pay on a salary basis, all employees would be salaried, and the overtime laws would be meaningless. To be exempt from paying overtime to an employee, the employee must fit within one of the specific exemptions described in the law. There is no general exemption for salaried employees. In general, the Department of Labor’s regulations provide:
- Salaried workers who earn $11.37 per hour or less are always entitled to overtime, and white-collar workers who earn over $100,000 annually are not entitled to overtime;
- Public safety first-responders are not exempt;
- Veterans are not automatically exempt by virtue of their military service.
The regulations also include new rules for specific occupations, including financial services workers, insurance claims adjusters, nurses, and technologists and technicians. If your employer is planning to change its overtime policies, or reclassify your job, you may need independent legal advice from a qualified Denver Employment Lawyer. You can get more information about the exempt workers from these “fact sheets” at the Department of Labor’s web site.
If you’re being denied wages or overtime pay and want legal advice, feel free to contact:
The information on this blog or website is not legal advice.