An angry employee just
stormed into your office and said, “I haven’t had a day off in 6 days straight,
I hope you’re planning on paying me overtime.” You know the employee is
non-exempt and eligible for overtime. A check of the schedule shows that last
week they worked Wednesday through Sunday. Your work week starts on Monday,
this week they’re working Monday through Friday.
You could reply, “We have
been scheduling like this for years and never paid overtime. We’re certainly
not going to start now.” Or you could say, “Let me check and get back to you.”
If you opted for the second
reply when the employee leaves the office you can;
- Scratch your head and pull out a thick manual.
- Launch a web search of the question.
- Call your attorney.
- Call your HR department, or consultant.
- Call the Department of Labor.
If you don’t have an HR
department or consultant calling the Department of Labor (
Friday, Eastern Time and
they are very helpful. I once posed a question that stumped the Helpline rep
they did some research and called me back! A call to the Helpline is protected
“Compliance assistance inquiries shall not trigger an inspection, audit,
investigation, etc.” The inquiry cannot protect an employer against a violation
or investigation but it won’t be used as the basis for one.
a question is broader or you have a bit more time the
won’t want to contact your attorney. But when you do you will have more and
better information to ask questions. Asking more focused questions saves time
many cases Federal legislation is modified or extended by state requirements.
Your state department of labor is the right place to call or check online for
this information. If you have employees working in multiple states they are
governed by the employment laws in the state where they work, not where the
company is headquartered. When the employee asks the question in the first
a premium for working more than 7 days in a row in
required. Federal wage and hour law only requires overtime for more than 40
hours in a work week, it does not talk about consecutive days of work.
It’s also a good idea to
check around about past practices and any written policies. If there is
something in writing, that employees receive, or a consistent practice, that
has paid premiums above state or federal requirements you may be bound by that
policy or practice. When you find practices like this do your research and call
your consultant or attorney.
When times are tough
employees are more likely to file claims about improper payment and legal
violations. Call the
and implement policies and procedures that comply with the law and prevent