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Can I work "off the clock" legally?

Working "off the clock" is a reality for many employees in various businesses, depending on the nature of the job and the area of employment. While there are some exceptions, working off the clock is not generally acceptable under modern employment law.

If you believe that your employer unfairly requires you to work off the clock, or refuses to properly compensate you for work you've done by claiming that it is unauthorized, then you may have grounds to consider legal action. Of course, there are many factors that may affect whether or not you are actually allowed to work off the clock without compensation.

In most cases, it is wise to speak with an experienced employment law attorney to understand your rights and explore your legal options. In many cases, employers willingly or negligently break the law because they do not expect an employee to actually stand up for fair treatment with legal action, especially entry-level employees who do not earn high wages. An experienced attorney can help you understand how the law applies and what steps you can take to fight for justice for yourself and for others.

What is the Fair Labor Standards Act?

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) lays out many of the most important protections employees have under the law. Things that many workers take for granted, such as minimum wage and overtime pay protections, exist under the FLSA, but these protections don't apply to all workers.

Before you quit your frustrating job in spectacular fashion or file a lawsuit against your employer, be sure to confirm that your job is covered under the FLSA. If it is not, you may still have legal options to fight unfair treatment in the workplace, but you may face some additional hurdles before achieving your goals.

What does "off the clock" work actually mean?

In general, if an employee works for more than eight hours in a day and 40 hours in a workweek for the same employer, then that employee deserves overtime pay. Some jobs, such as company executives, commission-based employees, salaried professionals and some other types of employees may find that they can or must work more than 40 hours in a week, but that is generally compensated in other ways by the employer.

Working off the clock may mean that an employer asks you to clock out and continue working to fulfill an immediate need. It may also mean spending time reviewing your work or the work of others, or may mean that you agree to finish a task, but your employer refuses to pay you for more than 40 hours of work if it takes longer.

While the details may change, the moving parts usually remain the same; an employee performs work for which he or she should receive wages, but an employer claims that he or she is not owed compensation for one reason or another.

Don't fight for justice all alone

If you believe that you deserve payment for hours you worked, don't hesitate to speak to a legal professional. You may have an opportunity to claim compensation that you truly deserve while creating a more just workplace for many others.

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