Can You Make an Employee Stay Past His Scheduled Shift?


While creating work schedules is an essential part of running a business, unforeseen circumstances can affect schedules and cause last-minute emergencies. For example, if a store or restaurant becomes crowded unexpectedly, or if an employee falls ill and must call in sick, you as an employer may need other employees to stay past their schedule shifts.

Schedule Adjustments

  • According to the North Carolina Department of Labor, employers are allowed by law to adjust employees’ hours “regardless of what the employees are scheduled to work.” Employers often readjust shift schedules to avoid paying their employees overtime, which is defined as any hours worked over 40 hours a week. For example, if an employer requires a worker to stay an hour past his scheduled shift on Friday, bringing his total number of hours worked for the week so far to 35 rather than 34, he is permitted to adjust the employee’s shift Saturday from five hours to four hours to avoid paying overtime.


  • The Fair Labor Standards Act places no limit on the number of hours workers older than 16 years of age may work in any week, reports the U.S. Department of Labor. Employers are not required to pay overtime when asking employees to work past their schedule shift if that shift is on the weekend or a holiday, only if the extra hours bring the employee's total to over 40 hours for the week. These rules apply regardless of whether the business is a large firm or a small “mom-and-pop” store, according to the North Carolina Department of Labor. There is also no limit on how many hours a salaried-exempt or non-exempt employee can be required to work.

Overtime Pay

  • Employees who are required to stay past their scheduled shift are entitled to overtime pay if the extra hour(s) they work bring their total number of hours worked in a week to over 40. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the Fair Labor Standards Act states that employees must receive an overtime pay of no less than time and one-half of their regular pay. For example, if an employee who earns $8.50 an hour is asked to stay two hours past his shift, bringing him to a total of 42 hours of work that week, his employer must pay him $12.75 for each of those two hours, or a total of $25.50 for two hours’ overtime work.


  • Occasionally, a business may hold a mandatory training program or seminar and require employees to stay past their scheduled shifts to participate. In this case, the U.S. Department of Labor States that these activities should be considered paid working time unless attendance is voluntary, the meeting is not related to the employees’ jobs and the employees do not perform actual work while in attendance.


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