Vacation Accural--Manditory Overtime

I was hired 6 months ago as a salaried employee in AZ. I was told by the VP, the required hours per week would be anywhere from 40-50 hours a week. My personnel profile states I am required to work 40 hours.

For 4 straight months, I was required to work 12-18 hour days and did not receive a day off (of course accumulating vacation time). In the months of November and December, I worked over 270 hours total.

After giving three weeks notice, I was told I cannot take my accrued vacation time by HR. Also, it cannot be paid upon termination.

Two questions. 1. Is it legal to be required to work overtime? 2. Is it legal to not allow me to have compensate for accrued vacation time?

1 answer  |  asked Jan 21, 2004 07:44 AM [EST]  |  applies to Arizona

Answers (1)

Francis Fanning
Overtime is governed by the law of supply & demand

There is no law that limits the amount of overtime your employer can require you to work. The marketplace law of supply and demand controls abusive employers on this issue. Most people won't continue to work the kind of hours you describe unless they are paid a very generous salary, and even then the physical limits of a person's body and brain will eventually govern. The only law that protects against abusive overtime is the Fair Labor Standards Act, which requires an employer to pay time and a half for hours over 40 per week. The Act exempts certain employees, such as managers, professionals (accountants, attorneys, etc.), administrative employees (e.g., HR people) and certain other categories. Just because you are paid a salary, this does not automatically mean you are exempt from the coverage of the law. For further information about this law, you can contact the U.S.Department of Labor.
Vacation pay is governed by the policies of the employer. The law does not require that it be given at all. When it is given, how it may be used, reimbursed, lost or accrued is a matter of employer policy. If the employer has made a practice of paying departing employees for unused vacation, it cannot simply ignore this in your case. If your accrued vacation amounts to less than $2,500.00 worth of pay, you can make a claim for unpaid wages by contacting the Labor Department of the Industrial Commission of Arizona (this is different from the U.S. Dept. of Labor). You can find more information about these agencies by going to their websites. My website,, has links to both agencies.

posted by Francis Fanning  |  Jan 21, 2004 11:15 AM [EST]

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