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Can I Be Forced to Work Off the Clock?

Oct 18, 2021

If there’s one thing most American workers have in common, it’s the pressure from their employers to be as productive as possible. In some cases, they’re even asked to do work outside of their normal work hours.

For example, many retail and food and beverage industry workers are told by their employers to clock out before starting their closing or cleaning duties, which may add an additional 1-2 hours of unpaid work per shift.

Except for highly paid salaried workers and executives or administrators, most employees have the right to overtime pay when they put in those extra hours.

In other words, if you’re being asked to work off the clock without proper compensation, your employer could be violating your rights.

Let’s dive a little deeper on federal law regarding off-the-clock work.

Laws Governing Off-the-Clock Pay

It’s never okay for an employer to not pay you for the work you do. If the “off-the-clock” work your employer requests doesn’t put you over 40 hours a week, then you should be compensated for that work with your standard pay.

If that “off-the-clock” puts you over 40 hours a week, then there are specific laws regarding your rights to overtime pay.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires that non-exempt employees, meaning employees covered by the FLSA, receive at least the minimum wage AND at least one and one-half times their regular rates of pay for hours worked over 40 in a workweek, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Exempt vs. Non-Exempt Employees

Whether you are considered exempt or non-exempt depends on how much you’re paid, how you are paid, and the type of work you do. For example, if you make below a certain threshold ($455 per week as of 2021), aren’t salaried, and aren’t considered an executive or administrative, you’re likely a non-exempt worker.

What Is Considered “Hours Worked?”

Hours worked includes the time an employee must be on duty, on the employer’s premises, or at any other prescribed place of work. Any additional time the employee is allowed to work is also included.

That means if your employer asks you to stay “on the clock,” even if you aren’t doing the tasks you normally associate with work, you are still technically working for your employer.

What Does All This Mean for Workers?

Nearly every type of worker in the U.S. is guaranteed certain basic rights, such as minimum wage and a safe work environment. Additionally, many workers are guaranteed overtime pay (one and a half times their standard pay rate) for every hour exceeding 40 hours a week.

Most workers who don’t earn big paychecks or are executives or administrators at a company should expect to get compensation if they’re asked to work more than 40 hours a week. Unfortunately, many employers find ways to get employees to work more without overtime pay.

What Workers Should Do If Their Rights Are Violated

If an employee suspects they’re not being paid properly for the work they do, they should contact an employment law attorney immediately. Laws regarding fair compensation can be complex, but a lawyer will be able to evaluate your situation and tell you if you can seek additional payment from your employer.

Need Help? Contact Fieger Law!

The Detroit employment law attorneys at Fieger Law help clients throughout the U.S. get the payment they’re entitled to, and that includes cases involving much deserved backpay from employers.

We will review your case at no cost and help you better understand your legal options. If you want to speak to employment law attorneys who have a track record of success, contact Fieger Law today to schedule your free case assessment.