Archive for November, 2010

I read a recent article at www.theHRSpecialist.com  that made me call my husband immediately and read it to him.  As a “lead” for his employer, who is required to travel and live in hotels constantly, he’s often encourage to do his paperwork “off the clock” while back at the hotel rather than on the job site and quite frankly, rarely has time during the normal work day to tackle it. On site safety is obviously an issue as well as supervision of his team and he always feels good doing it since his company constantly praises him for his time management and work ethic however, this could be an issue going forward for a lot of us. 

           We all love an employee who gives extra effort – the type who will come in early or stay late to finish projects and get ahead on paperwork.  But, as this new case shows, managers should be careful about praising hourly employees for their off-the-clock efforts. Workers can use those comments in an overtime-pay lawsuit as proof that the company not only knew of the unpaid extra hours, but also condoned them.

RECENT CASE:  A group of Los Angeles County public safety employees filed a lawsuit for unpaid overtime. The hourly workers claimed they weren’t paid for extra time they worked before and after their shifts when they checked e-mail, had briefings and completed reports. 

The county claimed it had no idea about the work …. but performance evaluations told a different story. The employees had regularly been praised for their extra (unpaid) work.  That was enough for the court to conclude the violations might be willful, extending the back pay claim from two years to three.

Top 3 overtime mistakes (per the US Department of Labor)

  1. Incorrect classification.  The most common mistake is wrongly labeling employees as exempt from overtime pay.
  2. Working off the clock.  E-mail and smartphones have helped blur the lines on what is “compensable” work time.
  3. Regular pay for OT time.  Some employers pay the regular hourly rate, not the required time-and-a-half, for hours exceeding 40 in a workweek.

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