freelance overtime

Can freelancers get paid overtime?

I’m doing ID work at an hourly rate for a client with a tight deadline. I’ve worked well over 40 hours for a few weeks in a row on this project alone. Is it appropriate to charge additional fees for working over 40 hours per week? I’m not trying to squeeze money out of my jobs, but just curious how other freelancers handle their time and thinking ahead to future projects.

Thanks for your input…

I’ve never seen it, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. I have seen people raise their rates for unpredictable clients though.

getting paid hourly is a great way to stay busy with an organization that has a constant flow of work but it is aweful if they are cranked. It is my understanding that as a general contractor (more or less how you are viewed by the IRS) you cannot collect overtime unless specified in your working contract with the company. If your client is withholding taxes then you are technically an employee and if hourly, not salaried, you are entitled to overtime. The only place I have heard of salaried overtime was in the car industry…extending to employees and sub contractors.

It takes awhile to develop the skill but the best bet is to quote based on phase deliverables meaning you account for the time you will require to complete a specific phase of the design and bill the total amount for the time required. This allows you to renegotiate if clients come back again and again with work beyond the original deliverables. The only caution is if you do not know how to properly quote or budget your time you can work more hours for the same amount of original quote…once you get a signed quote that is all you will make for the deliverables you sign up for…be careful if you are new to the profession or freelance.

keep track of your hours based on phase deliverables…in the future you can crunch that data for specific clients to figure out if you are under billing them for the work you create.

and remember, if you are hourly and not under a work agreement contract you can call it quits if you feel you are being taken advantage of…just note that if you leave on bad terms it can cause problems down the line when prospects ask for references.

best to talk it over with whoever signed you up for the project.

and for Godsake make sure you save 50% of your pay for taxes! I know some freelancers that owe very sustantial sums of cash to the IRS because they didn’t factor taxes! and file quarterly or you might get penalized.
I am sure you know this but the IRS will view you as a small business…know the rules or it can bite you!

Thanks for all of the advice. Now I have a new question based on your comments.

You mentioned that hourly employees are entitled to overtime. However, I have worked at many places in which overtime was paid at the regular rate instead of the 1.5x that is typically reward to hours past 40.

Does anyone know how companies get around the rules and don’t pay out overtime? I’ve discussed this with others who’ve had similar experiences but we never came to a conclusion.

Can they be paid overtime? Yes, if they have it in their contract. Without that specification, freelancers are generally out of luck.

Check out this link to the US Deptartment of Labor

Not sure what some of that is referring to, but it looks like IF the company has to pay overtime, that is HAS to be at least 1.5 times the normal rate.

A lot of companies get around this by defining your status as a subcontractor, and not an employee. (This is also the same reason freelancers don’t get paid overtime either.) If you’re a subcontractor, the company could still decide to pay you ovetime, but because it isn’t a requirement, they don’t have to abide by the 1.5x rate increase.

As a consultant (paid hourly) dont forget it is also (aside from whatever contract you may have) YOUR perogative to charge or not charge extra billable time.

Depending on the project, and client and your own experience, I would also note that sometimes it is best to suck it up and not charge but work overtime. Putting more into the job than a client expects is always a good way to build a relationship and get a second contract. Just balance the overtime hours with the potential for another contract, worth even more, perhaps even billed at a higher rate.

Plus, if you are new, and not so experienced, you should judge how effective your own time is being spent.

Time is not only time (and $) but also what you produce in that time. As a good rule, I compare the time Ive spent to how long I think it would take myself in 5 years with more experience and knowing what Ilearn from the project. If its less than the overtime total, dont charge. youve learnt from the project, and thats your extra pay.

Dont get taken advantage of, but also keep real and look at it from the clients side too. They wont feel happy paying if the time is for your own development.


Thanks for the advice, you’ve all been a lot of help.