Overtime wages help compensate people who have to put in a lot of hours during any given workweek. They also help deter employers from running their staff completely ragged. By requiring that companies pay at least 150% of someone’s standard hourly wage for hours over 40 that they work, the law ensures that those who must put in extra time receive adequate compensation for doing so.
Unfortunately, the requirement to pay staff extra for those hours can seem like a financial drain for businesses. Some companies will go to great lengths and even violate the law and the rights of their workers in the hope of avoiding paying overtime wages. Workers should watch out for any signs of wage theft, but especially the three practices below.
- Having duties workers perform before or after their shift
Prep work and cleaning are part of your job. Your employer should pay you for every minute that you spend on those job responsibilities. Requiring that hourly workers come into a kitchen to chop vegetables without compensation before their shift isn’t legal, and neither is requiring that retail staff clock out when the business closes and clean without pay. Your company should not habitually demand that you perform any labor off the clock.
- Denying overtime pay without corporate approval
Some companies have overtime policies that forbid any overtime without management approval or written approval from corporate offices. While companies can certainly have these policies, they must still pay workers overtime wages if their shift or workweek qualifies them for overtime pay.
When unusual circumstances arise that force someone to work without getting pre-approval, like someone calling in sick so you can’t leave your shift, the company has to pay you even if the situation violated its policies.
- Changing your timeclock record or deleting excess time
Whether you write your hours down on a sheet or clock into a computer system, your employer should never reduce your time clock record to avoid paying you overtime.
If you are just a little over the 40-hour cut-off, a manager might go in and take 15 or 30 minutes off of each shift, dropping your total hours down under 40 again. Such changes are wage theft because you worked that time and deserve to get paid for it.
Keeping your own records of when you clock in and out and help you if you have to bring a claim against your employer to get the wages you’ve earned.