FLSA FAQ: Overtime and Unpaid Leave

What counts towards “hours worked” under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), can become an issue when it comes to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), as well. An employee has been approved to take intermittent FMLA leave one to three days per month. When the employer asks the staff to work overtime, the employee volunteers. He claims that he should be paid at his overtime rate even though he was out on FMLA leave for some portion of the week. Is this true?

Let’s look at the numbers. Let’s say that the employee takes off on Monday and Wednesday for FMLA leave, thus working 24 of the 40 hours for which he was scheduled. And then he volunteers to work on Saturday, a day outside his normally scheduled work time. In all, he actually worked 32 hours (24 + 8), with an additional 16 hours of FMLA leave time. The 16 hours do not count as “hours worked” under the FLSA.

Because he did not work more than 40 hours in one week, the employee is not entitled to overtime pay.

The result is the same even if the employee is paid sick or vacation time during the FMLA leave time. The use of such paid time still does not count.