The Ultimate Guide to Colorado Overtime Laws

Navigate the complexities of Colorado overtime laws with ease using our guide. Discover valuable tips and strategies to ensure compliance and protect your rights.

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Navigating overtime pay can be complex, especially when considering both federal and state regulations.

While the FLSA provides a baseline for overtime pay across the United States—typically mandating that employees receive one and a half times their regular pay rate for hours worked beyond 40 in a workweek—states can impose stricter requirements.

Colorado is one such state that has enacted laws to further protect workers.

Here, we'll dive into the core components of Colorado's overtime laws, separating the factual wheat from the fictional chaff and breaking down the implications for the workforce within the state.

Colorado Overtime Laws: An Overview

If you work in Colorado, you'll be pleased to know that the state offers additional protections and rights regarding overtime pay, exceeding those mandated by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

This means potentially greater compensation for your dedicated hours.

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Currently, Colorado overtime laws are governed by the Colorado Overtime and Minimum Pay Standards Order.

Here are the key points.

  • Overtime Pay

Employees in Colorado are entitled to overtime pay at 1.5 times their regular pay rate for any hours worked over 40 in a workweek, over 12 hours in a workday, or for the first 12 hours worked on the seventh consecutive day of work in a workweek.

  • Double Time Pay

Workers earn double time pay for any hours worked beyond 12 in a single day or beyond 12 hours on the seventh consecutive day of work in a workweek, whichever results in higher pay for employees compared with obligations under federal laws.

  • Exemptions

Several specific categories of employees are exempt from overtime requirements, including executive, administrative, and professional employees, as defined by the FLSA, along with other industry exemptions (for instance, certain types of agricultural workers).

  • Minimum Salary Threshold for Exemptions

Most hourly workers qualify and are categorized as "non-exempt." However, Colorado has set a minimum salary threshold for exempt employees, which is higher than the federal requirement and reaches $55000 annually. Hence, salaried employees might also be eligible under specific duties and salary tests.

Beyond the Basics

  • Meal and rest breaks: Colorado has specific guidelines for meal and rest breaks, impacting how overtime is calculated. Consult the COMPS Order for details.
  • Recordkeeping: Employers must maintain accurate records of employee hours worked for at least three years. Utilize timekeeping systems and encourage employees to track their hours diligently.
  • Misclassified employees: Some employers misclassify employees as exempt to avoid overtime pay. If you suspect this, contact the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment for guidance.

Calculating Overtime Pay

  1. Identify Regular Pay: This could be your hourly wage or your salary divided by the number of hours it's intended to cover (e.g., salary ÷ 40).
  2. Determine Overtime Hours: Calculate the hours worked over 40 in a week, 12 in a day, or 12 consecutively.
  3. Multiply Overtime Hours by 1.5: This gives you the total overtime pay earned.
  4. Add Regular Pay and Overtime Pay: The employee's gross pay for the pay period.


  • Standard Overtime: An employee works 45 hours at an hourly wage of $20. Their overtime pay is (5 hours x ($20 x 1.5) = $75.
  • Time-and-a-Half: A salaried employee earning $4,000 monthly works 50 hours a week. Their regular pay is $4,000 ÷ 40 = $100 per hour. Overtime pay is (10 hours x($100 x 1.5) = $1,500.
  • Double Time: Colorado doesn't mandate double time, but some employers offer it for work exceeding specific hourly limits. Consult your employer's policy.

Rights, Responsibilities, and Practical Implications

  • Employers: Compliance with Colorado's overtime laws is crucial to avoid legal repercussions, including penalties and back pay. Employers must maintain clear communication regarding overtime expectations, keep accurate records of hours worked, and ensure their payroll systems are set up to provide correct calculations.
  • Employees: Understand your eligibility, keep track of your hours, request overtime pay in writing if unpaid, and contact the CDLE for assistance if needed. Workers need to track their hours accurately and be aware of their rights regarding overtime pay.
  • Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE): Enforces overtime laws, investigates complaints, and helps employees recover unpaid wages.

Employee Examples

  • Shift worker: You work 10 hours one day and 8 hours the next. Under Colorado law, you're entitled to overtime pay for the 2 hours exceeding 12 on the first day. Remember, even if your weekly hours don't hit 40, exceeding 12 hours in a single day triggers overtime.
  • Salaried worker: You make $50,000 annually and work 50 hours per week. While your salary might exempt you from federal overtime under specific conditions, Colorado's higher minimum salary threshold for exemptions could mean you're entitled to overtime for exceeding 40 hours weekly.

Employer Examples

  • Restaurant owner: Your cook works 14 hours on a busy Saturday. Since it's the 6th day of their workweek, they earn overtime for 2 hours (14-12) and double time for the last 2 hours. Ensure your payroll system reflects this accurately.
  • Construction company: You have several administrative assistants who manage projects across state lines. Familiarize yourself with both federal and Colorado overtime laws, as the stricter requirements will apply. Consider seeking legal counsel to navigate multi-state compliance.

Can Colorado overtime pay laws be waived in a contract?

In Colorado, employees' right to wages, including overtime pay, cannot be waived. Employers cannot require employees to waive this right in a contract.

If an issue arises and an employee is found to be entitled to overtime pay, the employer may need to disprove any claim that they knew or should have known the employee was incurring overtime without pay.

It's important to note that the federal law, known as the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) applies to most employers with annual sales or revenue over $500,000, and both small and large employers can be required to comply with Colorado state law and regulations for overtime.

Compliance Tips for Employers

  • Implement clear overtime policies and make them known.
  • Use an accurate timekeeping system and regularly audit it.
  • Train managers and supervisors on overtime regulations.
  • Seek legal counsel if unsure about specific employee exemptions.

Compliance Tips for Employers

  • Classify employees accurately: Ensure you correctly identify exempt and non-exempt employees based on their duties and salaries.
  • Maintain detailed timekeeping: Implement a tool for accurately recording all employee hours, including breaks and overtime.
  • Communicate overtime rules and details: Clearly inform employees about overtime policies, compensation, and refusal options.
  • Pay overtime promptly: Ensure timely payment of overtime wages on designated paydays.

How These 5 Practices Simplify Compliance with Colorado Overtime Pay Laws

  • Time Tracking Software: Streamline compliance with automatic hour tracking, reducing errors and simplifying payroll calculations.
  • Accurate Self-Reporting: Empower employees to manage their time effectively and contribute to reliable timekeeping data.
  • Regular Audits: Proactive reviews ensure accuracy, identify potential issues early, and prevent costly mistakes.
  • Compensatory Time: Offer flexibility to employees while managing labor costs when permissible and mutually beneficial.
  • Work-life Balance Initiatives: Reduce unnecessary overtime, boost employee morale, and minimize compliance risks.

Additional Considerations

Updates and Changes: Laws and regulations can change, so employers and employees must stay informed about any updates to the COMPS Order or other relevant legislation.

Colorado Overtime Pay: Key Facts & Conclusion

The impact of the Colorado Overtime Pay law extends beyond individual workplaces.

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When employees are treated fairly and compensated adequately, they have more disposable income within the community.

This stimulates local businesses, strengthens the tax base, and creates a virtuous cycle of growth and opportunity.

Colorado's progressive stance on overtime pay transcends mere legal requirements; it paints a vibrant portrait of the state's dedication to fostering a work environment that values equal treatment and shared prosperity.

FAQs on Colorado Overtime Pay Laws

Q: Who qualifies for overtime pay in Colorado?

✅ Most employees in Colorado are entitled to overtime pay unless they fall under specific exemptions outlined by state and federal laws. These exemptions typically cover executive, administrative, and professional positions with certain salary and duties thresholds.

Q: How much overtime pay do I earn?

✅Non-exempt employees must be paid at time and a half (1.5 times) their regular hourly rate for any hours worked:

  • Over 40 hours per workweek.
  • Over 12 hours in a single workday.
  • More than 12 consecutive hours, regardless of the workday start/end time.

Q: Can my employer force me to work overtime?

✅ Generally, no. Colorado is an "at-will" employment state, but employers cannot coerce employees into overtime. However, some exceptions exist depending on industry and specific agreements.

Q: What if my employer doesn't track my overtime hours accurately?

✅ Under Colorado law, employers must keep accurate records of all employee hours, including overtime. Contact the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) for guidance if you suspect discrepancies.