No one understands the saying “Time is money” better than an hourly employee. If you clock in, log in or sign in to start your shift, you understand the impact every hour has on your paycheck. You also know that after you work 40 hours in a week, your hourly rate goes up, and this may be incentive to pick up extra shifts.
Nevertheless, you may feel pressured at times to work off the clock. It may be little things, but if it happens frequently, you may be missing out on chances to earn that extra pay for overtime. What you may not realize is that it is a violation of U.S. labor laws for an employer to force you or allow you to work without compensation.
A minute here, a minute there
You may be surprised how easy it is to reach 40 hours a week. You have coworkers who take vacations, call in sick or quit, and you offer to take their shifts. Before you know it, you are earning overtime. Overtime pay is time and a half of your regular hourly pay. That can make a considerable difference in your paycheck. However, your New York employer may try to avoid paying you the overtime rate by making you do these or other work-related activities off the clock:
- Taking home reports or files to complete on your own time
- Making you set up your work station before clocking in or clean up after clocking out
- Forcing you to eat lunch at your desk so you can answer phone calls or emails
- Not counting the time you travel between clients on a sales call
- Making you clock out to correct mistakes or redo assignments
- Not counting the time you spend waiting for clients or assignments on the job
- Not paying you for time you must be at work and on-call
- Sending you to meetings or training without pay during work hours
If you have already clocked out, you may think nothing of jumping in to help a coworker who has fallen behind. Even if you volunteer to do this, your employer is breaking the law by allowing you to do so off the clock. It certainly benefits your employer to let you work without pay, but the law does not allow it.
On the other hand, if you feel your employer is not compensating you for all the hours you work, you may have cause for seeking legal advice. If your employer is intentionally violating the labor laws for fair wages and overtime pay, you have a right to seek the compensation you deserve.