What is a Workweek and How The DOL Describes It

What Is a Workweek and How The DOL Describes It

What Is a Workweek

Do you understand how a workweek is determined? Employees may come to work Monday through Friday and have Saturday and Sunday off. Is a workweek just described as being Monday through Friday since that’s when employees worked? 

A workweek must account for all days in a given week, including days employees do not work. 

Properly tracking your workweek isn’t just great for payroll accuracy; following working weeks properly helps businesses stay in compliance with DOL and FLSA rules and regulations. 

What is a Workweek

As previously mentioned, many of us get up on a Monday morning, eat breakfast, get dressed, brush our teeth, grab a cup of coffee and punch the time clock to start the workweek. Eventually, Friday rolls around, and our week is coming to an end. But what about those who work the weekends or don't start their workweek on a Monday?

Fortunately, the DOL's website answers this question, and it's pretty simple to understand.  

The U.S. Department of Labor and the Fair Labor Standards Act defines a workweek as "a period of 168 hours during seven consecutive 24-hour periods. It may begin on any day of the week and at any hour of the day established by the employer. Generally, for minimum wage and overtime payment purposes, each workweek stands alone; there can be no averaging of 2 or more workweeks. Employee coverage, compliance with wage payment requirements, and the application of most exemptions will be determined on a workweek basis." ("Wage and Hour Division (WHD)." U.S. Department of Labor - Wage and Hour Division - U.S. Department of Labor-Handy Reference Guide to the Fair Labor Standards Act. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Apr. 2017.)

What are Considered Hours Worked in a Workweek

The Fair Labor Standards Act that covered employees must be compensated for the hours in which they have worked in a workweek, including overtime hours. According to the FLSA, hours worked include all time an employee is required to be on duty or the employer’s property. Other labeled places of work start from the beginning of the first initial activity of the workday to the end of the last work activity of the workday.

Some companies and other industries may classify a working week based on 32 hours, 36 hours, or 40 hours. Also, don’t forget those working upwards of 50 to 60 hours per week who may be entitled to overtime pay

What’s Considered as an FLSA Covered Employee

Employees of specific enterprises with workers who participate in selling, handling, or otherwise work on goods or materials that are moved or produced for commerce by any person, and interstate commerce, are FLSA covered employees. 

Additionally, an enterprise is covered if its related activities performed through unified operation or common control by any person include:

  • Persons whose annual gross volume of sales made or business done is not less than $500,000—exclusive of excise taxes at the retail level that is separately stated.
  • Persons who are engaged in the operation of a hospital, including institutions that are primarily engaged in the care of the aged, the sick, or the mentally ill and reside on the premises. Schools for mentally or physically disabled or gifted children; a preschool, an elementary or secondary school, or an institution of higher education, whether operated for profit or not for profit.
  • A person who is active in a public agency.

Service employees who are domestic such as chauffeurs, housekeepers, day workers, full-time babysitters, or cooks, are covered if:

  • Employees work a total of more than 8 hours per week for at least one employer.
  • Employees’ cash wages from one employer in a calendar year are $1,700 or more. 

It is essential to note employees of firms that are not considered as covered enterprises under the Fair Labor Standards Act still may be subject to recordkeeping, overtime pay, minimum, and child labor provisions if they’re individually engaged in interstate commerce or in the production of goods for interstate commerce, or in any closely-related process or occupation directly essential to such production.

This data was collected from Handy Reference Guide to the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Tracking Your Workweek and Why it’s Important

An employer must keep track of their workweek and stay within FLSA overtime compliance for nonexempt employees who are typically owed overtime wages based on hours worked over the overtime threshold. An employee who classifies as nonexempt is owed time-and-a-half per FLSA’s standard 40-hour workweek. 

It’s crucial to note overtime wages are based on a workweek and not a calendar year, so you stay within FLSA and state law compliance.

What is The Department of Labor (DOL)

The United States Department of Labor (DOL) is defined by Wikipedia as a cabinet-level department of the U.S. federal government responsible for occupational safety, wage and hour standards, unemployment insurance benefits, reemployment services, and some economic statistics; many U.S. states also have such departments. ("United States Department of Labor." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 05 Apr. 2017. Web. 17 Apr. 2017.)  

The Department of Labor was founded on March 4, 1913, while its headquarters is located in Washington, D.C., and is headed by the U.S. Secretary of Labor.

According to the Department of Labor’s website, their mission is “To foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.” ("Our Mission." United States Department of Labor. N.p., 07 Jan. 2016. Web. 17 Apr. 2017.)

Overall, the DOL is designed to protect you and make for a better day while you are on the clock.

A Solution to Tracking a Workweek

A reliable time tracking software is a great way to help aid in tracking workweeks. Modern time and attendance tracking will allow for accurate PTO calculation, eliminating payroll errors, track overtime hours worked, and help business owners to abide by the DOL and FLSA laws.

Easily Track Your Workweek

Tracking your workweek will ensure accurate pay periods, DOL & FLSA compliance.

OnTheClock Employee Time Tracking

Written by

OnTheClock Team

OnTheClock is the perfect app for business that want to keep track of their employees' time without spending hours doing it. With OnTheClock, you can forget about the old way of doing things.

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a thought From Julie Paletta on 3/24/2022 ...
Does each workweek stand alone so that, if for example, a non-exempt employee works 12 consecutive days, the overtime rules "start over" with the count of 40 hours at the end of each defined workweek? Our handbook defines the workweek at starting at 12:01am on Sunday and ending at 12:00pm on Saturday.
reply from OTC - Hi Julie. That may be when your workweek begins and ends, but it's worth looking into seeing how your pay period is set up. If you are owed for 12 consecutive days, then you need to see if those 12 days align with one pay period or cross into two. We are not legal experts and recommend speaking with your HR department or local labor department. We hope this helps.
a thought From Lisa J Jackson on 10/9/2021 ...
how many days is a week holding? I have filed my claims for the past 3 weeks and it still says each week is a holding week
reply from OTC - Hello Lisa. We recommend asking your HR department which days start and end your workweek. A workweek can begin and conclude differently depending on each individual company. We hope this helps.

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