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Know Your Rights: Can I Get Paid Working Overtime?

Know Your Rights: Can I Get Paid Working Overtime?

It’s getting to the end of the day–the moment you have been waiting for all day to leave work. Then, something unexpected happens–an emergency, a deadline that wasn’t met or an annoying customer. Before you know it, you have stayed on longer than you should. And for some people, this is a daily occurrence. But what does this mean if you are a non-exempt worker?

Almost half of Americans work more than 50 hours a week.[1] When you consider that the average working hours is less than 30 hours a week in countries like France, Denmark, the Netherlands and Germany,[2] you realize how overworked the average American must be. So it is even more important to know whether you should be getting paid for those extra hours or not.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) states that employees need to be categorized as exempt or non-exempt. The most significant difference is the issue of being entitled to overtime pay.

Non-exempt workers must be paid overtime.

A non exempt employee, as the name suggests, is not exempt from the FLSA rules. They must be paid at least the minimum hourly rate.

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If they work more than 40-hours a week, they must be paid overtime at the rate of not less than 1.5 times their hourly rate for each hour. The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour but some states offer a higher minimum hourly rate.[3]

Pros:

  • You are entitled to overtime rates.
  • You have the option to earn more money (if you wish) by opting to work overtime.

Cons:

  • You stand to lose money if your hours ever reduced.
  • Depending on the company, you may not have the same benefits and perks as an exempt worker.

Exempt workers are not entitled to overtime pay.

An exempt employee must be paid a salary (as opposed to an hourly rate), which means they will not be entitled to overtime pay. These workers receive above minimum wage rates and must earn at least $455 a week in order to meet the threshold set by the FLSA.

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They tend to work in the capacity of an executive, administrative, professional or sometimes sales.

In November 2016, a federal judge issued an injunction to stop a new rule by that would have increased the exempt salary threshold from $23,600 a year to $47,476 a year. But according to the Society for Human Resource Management,

“For now, the overtime rule will not take effect as planned Dec. 1 [2016], but it could still be implemented later down the road.”

Pros:

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  • You have a reliable and fixed income monthly.
  • You often earn more based on a salary than those who get paid an hourly rate.
  • You often have more access to better benefits and perks.

Cons:

  • You are not entitled to overtime rates.
  • You may have to work much longer hours in order to meet your workload.

Know your rights and be a smart employee.

Now that you understand the difference between non-exempt and exempt employees, time to evaluate your work and know when you’re entitled to get paid.

1. Be aware of the “clock in and out” system.

If you work on a “clock in and out” system, ensure that you are being paid for all the hours you work. For instance, some employers may force workers to clock out for lunch even if they work through their lunch, or clock out when they end up staying later.

2. Starting early could mean working overtime too.

Some employers may ask you to start early so that there is time to put your uniform on or to attend meetings or trainings, etc. If this happens and you work on a clock system, you are entitled to get paid for that time.

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3. Stay up-to-date with salary policies.

The Department of Labor, with the support of many Congress members, is trying to appeal the injunction to change the law for the exempt salary threshold. Check their website to stay up-to-date with any developments.

If you have any doubts about your exempt or non-exempt rights, or feel you are not being treated fairly, contact the Department of Labor.

Featured photo credit: Flaticon via flaticon.com

Reference

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J.S. von Dacre

Writer at Lifehack

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Last Updated on August 6, 2020

Why Working 9 to 5 Is Outdated

Why Working 9 to 5 Is Outdated

Bristol is the most congested city in England. Whenever I have to work at the office, I ride there, like most of us do. Furthermore, I always make sure to go at off hours; otherwise, the roads are jam-packed with cars, buses, bikes, even pedestrians. Why is that? Because everyone is working a traditional 9 to 5 work day.

Where did the “9 to 5” Come From?

It all started back in 1946. The United States government implemented the 40 hour work week for all federal employees, and all companies adopted the practice afterwards. That’s 67 years with the same schedule. Let’s think about all the things that have changed in the 67 years:

  • We went to the moon, and astronauts now live in space on the ISS.

  • Computers used to take up entire rooms and took hours to make a single calculation. Now we have more powerful computers in our purses and back pockets with our smartphones.

  • Lots of employees can now telecommute to the office from hundreds, and even thousands of miles away.

In 1946 a 9-5 job made sense because we had time after 5pm for a social life, a family life. Now we’re constantly connected to other people and the office, with the Internet, email on our smartphones, and hashtags in our movies and television shows. There is no downtime anymore.

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Different Folks, Different Strokes

Enjoying your downtime is an important part of life. It recharges your batteries and lets you be more productive. Allowing people to balance life and work can provide them with much needed perspective and motivation to see the bigger picture of what they are trying to achieve.

Some people are just more productive when they’re working at their optimal time of day, after feeling well rested and personally fulfilled.  For some that can be  from 4 a.m. to 9 a.m; for others, it could be  2 p.m. to 7 p.m.

People have their own rhythms and routines. It would be great if we could sync our work schedule to match. Simply put, the imposed 8-hour work day can be a creativity and morale killer for the average person in today’s world.

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Productivity and Trust Killer

Fostering creativity among employees is not always an easy endeavor, but perhaps a good place to start is by simply not tying their tasks and goals to a fixed time period. Let them work on their to-do list at their own pace, and chances are, you’ll get the best out of your employee who feels empowered instead of babysat.

That’s not to say that you should  allow your team to run wild and do whatever they want, but restricting them to a 9 to 5 time frame can quickly demoralize people. Set parameters and deadlines, and let them work at their own creative best with the understanding that their work is crucial to the functioning of the entire team.

Margaret Heffernan, an entrepreneur who previously worked in broadcasting, noted to Inc that from her experience, “treating employees like grown-ups made it more likely that they would behave the same way.” The principle here is to have your employees work to get things done, not to just follow the hands on the clock.

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A Flexible Remote Working Policy

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer famously recalled all her remote workers, saying she wanted to improve innovation and collaboration, but was that the right decision? We’ve all said that we’re often more productive in a half day working from home than a full day working in the office, right? So why not let your employees work remotely from home?

There are definitely varying schools of thought on remote working. Some believe that innovation and collaboration can only happen in a boardroom with markers, whiteboards and post-it notes and of course, this can be true for some. But do a few great brainstorms trump a team that feels a little less stressed and a little more free?

Those who champion remote working often note that these employees are not counting the clock, worried about getting home, cooking dinner or rushing through errands post-work. No one works their 9-5 straight without breaks here and there.  Allowing some time for remote working means employees can handle some non-work related tasks and feel more accomplished throughout the day. Also, sometimes we all need to have a taste of working in our pajamas, right?

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It’ll be interesting to see how many traditional companies and industries start giving their employees more freedom with their work schedule. And how many end up rescinding their policies like Yahoo did.

What are your thoughts of the traditional 9-5 schedule and what are you doing to help foster your team’s productivity and creativity? Hit the comments and let us know.

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