Are you unintentionally donating your time at work?

The old song says that working your fingers to the bone gets you nothing but boney fingers. However, you may also get overtime pay, which is one and a half times your normal hourly wage. In New York, overtime pay kicks in after you have worked 40 hours in a single week.

Perhaps the recent holiday rush had you working shifts beyond your usual schedule. Higher demand from customers and other employees calling out or taking vacation time may have provided the opportunity for you to clock a few extra hours. This makes for a nice paycheck as long as your employer is not cheating you out of wages you have rightfully earned.

When should I get paid?

The trick to earning overtime is reaching that 40-hour threshold. While many employers want the best for their workers, others are looking for ways to save some money. That means avoiding paying overtime even when employees have earned it. You may not even notice the way your employer shaves time from your timesheet, but those few minutes each day can quickly add up to hours and dollars lost. Some ways in which employers steal wages include the following:

  • Making you clock out when you go on errands for your employer or co-workers, such as picking up a lunch order or running personal errands for your boss
  • Answering the phone or working at your desk during an unpaid lunch break
  • Forcing you to take work home to finish on your own time
  • Requiring you to correct mistakes off the clock
  • Scheduling you to do pre- and post-work off the clock, such as setting up your station or cleaning your work area
  • Sending you to meetings or conferences without pay during normal business hours
  • Failing to pay you for time you are on-call at work or time when you are between customers or assignments

The law does not consider time you spend driving to and from work to be part of your paid work time unless you travel between work sites or in some cases if you drive a company vehicle. However, your job may have special circumstances. If you feel your employer is taking advantage of you in this or any area, you would be wise to ask for a consultation with an employment law attorney.

It may be possible to recoup any wages your employer failed to pay you, including any overtime you may have earned. An experienced attorney can help you understand how the law applies to your case and the most appropriate steps to take.

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