Love it or hate it, your job is how you pay your bills, protect your future and buy the things you want and need. Your time is valuable, and it is not fair for an employer to ask you to sacrifice your time without due compensation. Nevertheless, if you are unfamiliar with your rights under federal and Arizona employment laws, you may be at risk of losing money you deserve.
While most employers are careful about providing a just wage to their workers, you may be dealing with a boss who is willing to save the company money at your expense. Unless you know how the law protects you, you may not recognize when someone is taking advantage of you.
Hourly workers only?
One common way in which employers take advantage of their workers is by cheating them out of overtime pay. Federal standards require employers to pay workers time-and-a-half for any hours they work over 40 in a week. Overtime pay can put a dent in an employer’s payroll budget, and sometimes a business owner may use unscrupulous methods to deny you overtime wages.
One of the most common examples of this occurs when a worker is paid a salary. If you are a salaried employee, your boss may tell you that you do not qualify for overtime. This means he or she may require you to work well beyond your 40 hours without compensating you for the extra time. The truth is that if you make less than $455 a week, even as a salaried worker, you are eligible to receive overtime pay after 40 hours.
It is also common for employers simply not to pay the full amount owed for overtime. If you work more than 40 hours in a week, your employer is legally required to pay you at least 1.5 times your regular rate of pay for each hour you work over 40.
Off the clock?
Another common violation of employment law occurs when your boss makes you work off the clock. Examples of this are when you arrive for your shift and must do prep work before you can clock in or when you are told to clock out before you do cleanup or paperwork. If your boss clocks you out for a break you did not take, makes you work while eating your lunch, or makes you take work home to finish off the clock, your employer is essentially stealing time from you.
If those hours are not added to your total for the week, it is unlikely you will reach your 40 hours and qualify for overtime pay. Even if you volunteer to work off the clock, your boss should refuse to allow it because it is a violation of federal law. If you believe your employer is stealing your wages by denying you overtime, you would benefit from seeking the advice of an attorney.