What is OSHA?
OSHA is a regulatory agency of the U.S. Department of Labor which was established by Congress under President Richard Nixon in December 1970. OSHA's mission is to "assure safe and healthy working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education, and assistance."
The agency also enforces a number of different whistleblower statutes and regulations. OSHA's workplace safety inspections are intended to reduce injury rates and costs without adverse effects on employment, sales, credit ratings, or firm survival.
What is an Extended/Unusual Work Shift?
Any shift that incorporates more than 8 continuous hours, requires more than 5 consecutive days of work in a row or requires work during the evening is considered to be extended or unusual, according to OSHA. Extended shifts are typically used to maximize scarce resources, while long or unusual shifts are often required during the response and recovery phases of emergency situations.
Related Article: When is an Employee Entitled to Overtime Pay?
What is the Longest Shift You Can Legally Work?
OSHA does not currently regulate extended and unusual work shifts. There is no limit on the number of hours the adult employee may be required to work. The decision to work employees in 8-hour shifts, 12-hour shifts, 16-hour shifts, etc., is at the employer's discretion. The decision to call an employee in to work on a scheduled day off is also up to the employer.
Related Article: What is the Longest Shift You Can Legally Work?
Federal Labor Laws About Working 24 Hours Straight
According to OSHA, working a 24-hour shift can cause employees emotional, mental, and physical stress. However, there is currently no comprehensive federal law preventing employers from requiring adult employees to work shifts of 24 hours or even more.
That said, laws are in place to ensure that employees receive pay for overtime shifts. Other laws limit working hours when safety is a primary concern, such as limits on the number of hours a truck driver may operate a vehicle.
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Federal overtime laws are specified in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Unless exempt, covered employees must receive overtime pay for hours worked over 40 in a workweek at a rate not less than time and one-half their regular rates of pay.
There is no limit on the number of hours employees aged 16 and older may work in any workweek. FLSA does not require overtime pay for work on Saturdays, Sundays, holidays, or regular days of rest unless overtime is worked on these days.
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