How to Calculate Overtime on Biweekly Payroll

You’ve probably wondered how to handle overtime for employees paid every two weeks. It’s a common question, especially when payroll periods and workweeks don’t line up perfectly. The fear of miscalculating can be daunting, especially when trying to stay compliant with labor laws and ensuring your team feels valued.

Understanding overtime calculations can help you manage payroll more efficiently. This becomes even more important when dealing with biweekly payroll schedules. Knowing the ropes can save you headaches and keep your employees happy.

Let’s break down what overtime on biweekly payroll involves and how to calculate it accurately.

What is Overtime on Biweekly Payroll?

Overtime on biweekly payroll refers to calculating overtime pay for employees who receive their wages every two weeks. This calculation ensures that employees get compensated fairly for any extra hours worked beyond their regular schedule. Missteps here can lead to disgruntled employees or even legal issues.

Typically, overtime pay is 1.5 times the regular hourly rate. This applies to hours worked over 40 in a single workweek. For example, if an employee works 45 hours in one week, they would receive their regular pay for the first 40 hours and overtime pay for the additional 5 hours.

Understanding how to calculate overtime on a biweekly payroll helps ensure compliance with labor laws and fair compensation for employees. For more detailed information on payroll management, check out this payroll management guide.

How to Calculate Overtime on Biweekly Payroll

Before diving in, let’s address a common worry: the fear of getting it wrong. Accurate calculations are crucial for employee satisfaction and legal compliance.

Determine the Workweek

Establishing the workweek is the first step in calculating overtime on a biweekly payroll. A workweek is a fixed and regularly recurring period of 168 hours, which equals seven consecutive 24-hour periods. This period can start on any day and at any hour, but once set, it should remain consistent. This consistency ensures that overtime calculations are accurate and compliant with labor laws. 

Track Hours Worked

Accurate tracking of hours worked by each employee during the workweek is essential. Use a reliable method to record all hours, including regular hours, overtime, and any breaks. This can be done through digital time clocks, timesheets, or other time-tracking tools. Ensuring precise records helps in calculating the correct amount of overtime pay and avoids discrepancies. 

TIP: Utilize Homebase’s time clock feature to track hours accurately and prevent buddy punching.

Identify Overtime Hours

Once you have tracked the hours worked, the next step is to identify the overtime hours. Calculate the total hours worked by each employee in the workweek. Any hours worked beyond 40 in a single workweek are considered overtime. For example, if an employee works 45 hours in one week, 5 of those hours are overtime. It’s important to note that overtime is calculated weekly, not biweekly, even if the payroll is processed every two weeks. For more on handling overtime, see mandatory overtime legality.

Calculate Overtime Pay

To calculate overtime pay, multiply the number of overtime hours by 1.5 times the employee’s regular hourly rate. For instance, if an employee’s regular hourly rate is $20 and they worked 5 overtime hours, the overtime pay would be calculated as follows:

  1. Determine the regular hourly rate: $20
  2. Calculate the overtime rate: $20 x 1.5 = $30
  3. Multiply the overtime rate by the number of overtime hours: $30 x 5 = $150

In this example, the employee would receive $150 in overtime pay for the 5 hours worked beyond the regular 40-hour workweek. This overtime pay is in addition to their regular pay for the first 40 hours worked. 

TIP: Homebase’s payroll feature can automate these calculations, ensuring accuracy and compliance.

Does Overtime Reset Weekly on Biweekly Payroll?

A common concern is whether overtime resets weekly or biweekly. This can be confusing but knowing the correct approach helps avoid mistakes.

Yes, overtime resets each workweek, regardless of the pay frequency. This means that even if you pay your employees every two weeks, you still need to calculate overtime based on a weekly schedule. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires that overtime pay be calculated for each workweek separately.

A workweek is a fixed and regularly recurring period of 168 hours, or seven consecutive 24-hour periods. This period can start on any day and at any hour, but once established, it should remain consistent. This consistency ensures that overtime calculations are accurate and compliant with labor laws.

Biweekly pay periods do not affect the calculation of overtime. You must calculate overtime based on hours worked over 40 in each workweek, not over the entire two-week pay period. For example, if an employee works 45 hours in the first week and 35 hours in the second week, they are entitled to 5 hours of overtime pay for the first week, even though their total hours for the biweekly period are 80.

This approach ensures that employees are fairly compensated for any extra hours worked beyond their regular schedule. It also helps you stay compliant with labor laws, avoiding potential penalties and legal issues. 

For more on compliance, see how to stay compliant with overtime rules.

Should Overtime be Calculated Daily or Weekly?

You might wonder if calculating overtime daily would be easier, but the law has clear guidelines on this.

Overtime should be calculated weekly, not daily. This approach aligns with the requirements set by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The FLSA mandates that overtime pay must be given for hours worked over 40 in a workweek, regardless of the number of hours worked each day.

When calculating overtime, focus on the total hours worked in a workweek. A workweek consists of 168 hours, or seven consecutive 24-hour periods. This period can start on any day and at any hour, but it must remain consistent once established. This consistency ensures accurate and compliant overtime calculations.

For example, if an employee works 10 hours on Monday, 8 hours on Tuesday, 9 hours on Wednesday, 7 hours on Thursday, and 6 hours on Friday, the total hours worked in the week would be 40. In this case, no overtime pay is required because the employee did not exceed 40 hours in the workweek.

However, if the same employee works 10 hours on Monday, 10 hours on Tuesday, 10 hours on Wednesday, 10 hours on Thursday, and 5 hours on Friday, the total hours worked would be 45. Here, the employee is entitled to 5 hours of overtime pay, calculated at 1.5 times their regular hourly rate.

Calculating overtime weekly ensures that employees are fairly compensated for any extra hours worked beyond their regular schedule. It also helps you stay compliant with labor laws, avoiding potential penalties and legal issues. 

For more on creating efficient payroll processes, see run payroll with ease.

What are the Overtime Laws for Biweekly Payroll?

Understanding the laws can feel overwhelming, but it’s crucial to get this right to avoid penalties and ensure fairness.

Federal Overtime Laws

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sets the baseline for overtime pay in the United States. According to the FLSA, non-exempt employees must receive overtime pay for any hours worked over 40 in a single workweek. This applies regardless of whether employees are paid weekly, biweekly, or on another schedule. The overtime rate is typically 1.5 times the employee’s regular hourly rate. This ensures that employees are compensated fairly for extra hours worked beyond the standard 40-hour workweek. 

State Overtime Laws

State overtime laws can vary significantly and may offer more generous terms than federal law. Some states require overtime pay for hours worked beyond a certain number each day, not just over 40 in a week. For example, California mandates overtime pay for hours worked over eight in a single day and double time for hours worked over 12 in a day. Other states may have different thresholds or additional requirements for calculating overtime.

Employers must comply with both federal and state overtime laws. When state laws provide greater benefits to employees than federal laws, employers must follow the state regulations. This means staying informed about the specific overtime laws in each state where your employees work. Ignoring state-specific regulations can lead to compliance issues and potential penalties.

To navigate these complexities, it’s crucial to understand the overtime laws applicable to your business. Regularly review both federal and state regulations to ensure compliance. This proactive approach helps avoid legal complications and ensures that employees receive the correct overtime pay they are entitled to. 

TIP: Homebase’s HR & compliance tools can help you stay up-to-date with labor laws and ensure compliance.

How to Manage Overtime on Biweekly Payroll

Managing overtime can seem like a juggling act, but with the right strategies, you can keep everything balanced.

Implement an Accurate Time Tracking System

Accurate time tracking is the foundation for managing overtime on biweekly payroll. Use a reliable method to track employee hours worked. This can be a digital time clock, a mobile app, or an online timesheet system. Ensure that the system you choose is user-friendly and accessible to all employees. Accurate tracking helps prevent errors and ensures that employees are paid correctly for their overtime hours. 

Communicate Overtime Policies

Clear communication of overtime policies is vital. Make sure all employees and managers understand the rules regarding overtime. This includes how overtime is calculated, when it is paid, and any specific company policies related to overtime work. Provide this information in writing, such as in an employee handbook or through regular training sessions. Clear communication helps prevent misunderstandings and ensures everyone is on the same page. 

Monitor and Control Overtime

Regularly review employee hours to monitor and control overtime. Look for patterns of excessive overtime and address them promptly. This might involve speaking with employees to understand why they are working extra hours or adjusting workloads to ensure a more balanced distribution of tasks. Monitoring overtime helps you manage labor costs and ensures that employees are not overworked. 

TIP: Homebase’s scheduling tools can help you create balanced schedules and reduce unnecessary overtime.

Consider Alternative Scheduling

Explore alternative scheduling options to minimize overtime. This might include flexible work hours, staggered shifts, or job sharing. By adjusting schedules, you can distribute work more evenly and reduce the need for overtime. Discuss these options with your employees to find solutions that work for everyone. Alternative scheduling can help create a more efficient and balanced work environment. 

For more on effective scheduling, see how to run your small business using Homebase’s suite of tools.

What are the Penalties for Not Paying Overtime on Biweekly Payroll?

Failing to pay required overtime can have serious repercussions. Understanding these penalties is key to staying compliant and protecting your business.

Civil Fines

Employers who do not pay the required overtime may face civil fines. These fines can vary based on the severity of the violation and the number of employees affected. The Department of Labor (DOL) enforces these fines to ensure compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Civil fines serve as a deterrent to prevent future violations and encourage fair labor practices.

Back Pay

If you fail to pay overtime, you may be required to provide back pay to affected employees. Back pay includes the unpaid overtime wages that employees should have received. The DOL can order employers to compensate employees for up to two years of unpaid overtime. If the violation is found to be willful, this period can extend to three years. Back pay ensures that employees receive the compensation they are legally entitled to. 

For more on avoiding payroll errors, see payroll errors and how to avoid them.

Legal Action

Employees can take legal action against employers who fail to pay overtime. This can result in lawsuits that may lead to court-ordered payments and additional legal fees. Legal action can be time-consuming and costly, damaging your business’s reputation. Employees have the right to seek justice through the legal system, and courts often side with employees in these cases.

Criminal Prosecution

In severe cases, employers may face criminal prosecution for failing to pay overtime. This typically occurs when there is evidence of intentional wrongdoing or repeated violations. Criminal prosecution can result in fines, imprisonment, or both. The threat of criminal charges underscores the importance of adhering to labor laws and paying employees fairly.

Damages Awarded to Employees

Courts may award damages to employees in addition to back pay. These damages can include liquidated damages, which are equal to the amount of unpaid overtime. In some cases, courts may also award punitive damages to punish employers for egregious violations. Damages awarded to employees serve as compensation for the harm caused by unpaid overtime and as a warning to other employers.

Understanding these penalties highlights the importance of complying with overtime laws. Ensuring that employees receive the overtime pay they deserve helps maintain a fair and lawful workplace.

5 Tips for Managing Overtime on Biweekly Payroll

Let’s face it, managing overtime efficiently can feel like a daunting task. But these tips can help you stay on top of it.

1. Regularly Audit Payroll Practices

Regular audits of your payroll practices help ensure accuracy and compliance. Check for any discrepancies in recorded hours and overtime calculations. Verify that all overtime hours are correctly tracked and paid. Regular audits can catch errors early, preventing costly mistakes and ensuring employees receive their rightful pay. 

For more on payroll audits, see payroll summary reports.

2. Train Managers and Supervisors

Proper training for managers and supervisors is key. Ensure they understand how to track and approve overtime. Provide them with guidelines on managing employee schedules to minimize unnecessary overtime. Well-trained managers can effectively oversee employee hours, reducing the risk of errors and ensuring compliance with overtime laws. 

For more on training and management, see choosing a payroll provider.

3. Use Scheduling Tools

Utilize scheduling tools to manage employee hours efficiently. These tools can help you create balanced schedules, forecast labor needs, and avoid excessive overtime. Automated alerts can notify you when employees are approaching overtime, allowing you to adjust schedules accordingly. Scheduling tools streamline the process and help maintain control over labor costs. 

TIP: Homebase’s scheduling tools can help you create balanced schedules and reduce unnecessary overtime.

4. Communicate with Employees

Clear communication with employees about overtime policies is vital. Ensure they understand how overtime is calculated and when it applies. Provide them with information on how to request overtime and report any discrepancies. Open communication fosters transparency and trust, ensuring everyone is on the same page regarding overtime expectations. 

For more on payroll communication, see how to pay employees.

5. Stay Updated on Overtime Laws

Keep yourself informed about current overtime laws at both the federal and state levels. Laws can change, and staying updated ensures compliance. Regularly review legal resources or consult with legal experts to understand any new regulations that may affect your payroll practices. Staying informed helps you avoid legal issues and ensures fair treatment of employees. 


  • What: Handling biweekly overtime calculations.
  • So What: Avoid compliance issues and unhappy employees.
  • Pros & Cons: Ensures legal compliance and fair pay; errors lead to penalties.
  • Bottom Line: Accurate biweekly overtime is crucial.


Let’s make work easier for you and your team. Get started today with Homebase’s all-in-one team management solution designed specifically for hourly teams and small businesses. Sign up now and see how we can help streamline your scheduling, payroll, and HR management.


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