People like to believe that they can trust their employers. Many times, however, employers can use their employees’ lack of knowledge about FLSA law to make them work longer hours without their legally allotted increases in compensation. In order to ensure that you’re not being victimized by your employer, it’s important to know everything you can about overtime laws dictated by the Fair Labor and Standards Act of 1938.
The United States Department of Labor will tell you that around 70% of employers are violating FLSA regulations in some way, as there are many ways that employees work “off-the-clock” that are not reflected in their take-home pay. Because most people wrongfully believe they are not entitled to overtime if they are paid in a salary, many employers get away with this.
How Do You Know if You Qualify for Overtime?
According to theFLSA, premium overtime compensation must be given on hours that employees work in excess of a 40-hour workweek. A “workweek” is characterized by a recurring period of 168 hours (or seven 24-hour days), and it may begin on any day of the week and at any time, depending on the payroll requirements of the business or organization.
In many cases, if your job pays you an hourly wage, and you are forced to conduct work off-the-clock in order to do your job, you may be eligible for overtime recoveries.
What Is a Claimable Overtime Offense?
Employers can try to take advantage of their employees in a number of ways, including:
- Telling them that they are “not eligible” for overtime pay
- Offering a “flat overtime rate” instead of an hourly overtime rate
- Failing to identify, record, or compensate “off-the-clock” hours spent on job-related activities (including taking phone calls, answering emails, and taking work home)
- Paying wages “late”
- Classifying the overtime pay as something else that pays a lower compensation rate
- Paying on “averaged hours” or simply paying for “compensatory time”
- Simply not calculating “time-and-a-half” accurately
In many cases, federal labor laws dictate that FLSA recoveries can include additional compensation when:
- employees chronically perform work on their personal time
- employees work in excess of 40 hours per workweek without applying overtime variables to the employee’s compensation
Overtime Pay Cannot Be Waived
By law, an employee cannot agree to hours in excess of 8 per day or 40 per week without claiming a higher amount of compensation. Labor laws are enforced without exception, so that any organization that claims to be unbound to these rules will be forced to explain themselves to their employees. Even if an employee is willing to not collect overtime in order to get as many hours as possible, such an action would be not in compliance with FLSA requirements.
Over time, dozens of questions and gray areas have risen when it comes to overtime pay. If someone works through their unpaid lunch, are they entitled to overtime pay? If someone is asked to travel a long distance for work, or is asked to pick up a number of items before coming into work, are they entitled to overtime pay if their travel time exceeds their working hours? If a company requires on-site training, is that company required to pay you for your time? In most of these cases, the answer is yes.
However, overtime pay is not required if lunch is paid, or if you’re requesting back pay for your commute to and from the office, or if a company only heavily recommends a training program but does not require that you put in the extra hours.
If you find yourself confused as to whether or not you qualify for overtime pay, consider consulting an employment lawyer to help determine the blacks, whites, and grays of overtime pay and FLSA law.
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