Your employer benefits off of every moment you work, which means that you deserve to get paid for all of your time. If you aren’t a salaried employee, that means that you receive hourly wages, and all hourly workers should receive overtime pay for the hours they work beyond 40 hours in a given week.
Both federal and California state laws protect the right of hourly workers to receive at least 150% their standard hourly rate for any overtime hours. With exceptions for domestic employees, most workers have the right to overtime wages for any time beyond 40 that they work in a given week or for more than eight hours in a shift.
Unfortunately, because overtime pay means paying more for an hour of labor than they otherwise would, some employers will do anything in their power to avoid paying workers for overtime. Familiarizing yourself with three common tactics employers use to avoid their overtime obligations can help you prevent the abuse of your rights as an employee.
Your employer could ask you to work off the clock
It is shockingly common for major businesses, including retail establishments and popular chain restaurants, to expect staff members to work off the clock. Some companies may demand that you clock out at the end of your shift and then do prep work for the next day. Others might monitor your hours and have you clock out once you reach 40 hours without ending your shift at the same time.
It is illegal for your employer to require you to work without compensation. No one has to clock out and continue to work. If your employer makes you clock out, you are free to leave. You should document any time that your employer expresses an expectation for you to work without pay.
Your employer could intentionally change the workweek
Under federal labor laws, employers have the right to change the beginning and the end of their workweek occasionally. There should be clear communication with staff regarding when the 7-day workweek begins and when it ends. That way, you can accurately track whether you exceed 40 hours in a given pay period.
Some employers may attempt to manipulate when the workweek begins or ends as a means of reducing or eliminating their overtime obligations. It is legally permissible for a company to change when they start calculating hours for a new workweek occasionally, but if they do so repeatedly, that is a potential warning sign of illegal practices.
Your employer could change your time card
Whether you clock in and out using a digital system or must manually write down when you enter and exit the building, the potential exists for someone to make changes to your time card for the benefit of the business. By shortening some or even all of your work shifts, it may be possible for your employer to avoid paying you overtime.
Changing your time card is a violation of your rights, as is the refusal to pay you a fair wage for the overtime hours you work. Maintaining your own records of when you start and stop each shift will help you to prove that tampering has occurred if your employer changes your records to avoid their obligations you.
If you have evidence that your employer has broken the law by refusing to pay you fair wages for overtime hours worked, you may need to take legal action to hold them accountable for their underhanded employment practice.