Have you received a paycheck that is smaller than what you expected? Employers acting in bad faith will sometimes deliberately “shave” or undercount hours you have recorded and pay you less than what you earned. Some employers might make working “off-the-clock” a known, informal policy. For example, employers will sometimes say that they don’t pay for certain tasks at the beginning and end of a workday and instruct employees not to clock in or count their time spent on those tasks. There are detailed regulations under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act about what tasks count as work and must be paid. When in doubt, you should consult an attorney with experience handling claims in this area.
No matter what your employer says, you might have a legal claim if you have not been paid for all hours you worked. At Fair Labor Law, we provide nationwide assistance with unpaid time claims and can handle cases involving off-the-clock work and the undercounting of hours. Our unpaid time attorney has over a decade of legal experience and will work tirelessly to recover the maximum compensation available to you. We are committed to fighting all types of wage theft and will leverage our knowledge and resources to help you efficiently navigate the claims process.
Under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employers must pay employees for all hours worked. This potentially includes overtime compensation, calculated at 1.5 times the base rate of pay, for eligible non-exempt employees.
The possibility of overtime means that employers should be diligently tracking employee hours in order to remain compliant with the applicable labor and wage laws. Most companies will require employees to “punch in” and “punch out” when they start and stop work. They will also track legally mandated meal and rest breaks.
You will most likely not be asked to track your hours if you are an “exempt” salaried employee or independent contractor. Workers in these categories are not entitled to overtime pay. If you are an exempt employee or independent contractor, you must be careful to ensure that you are not being misclassified by your employer. Employers will sometimes intentionally misclassify workers to avoid having to pay benefits and follow overtime rules.
If you suspect you are being misclassified or are not being paid for all of your work time, you should thoroughly track your work hours yourself. Even if your employer does not require you to do so, you should document when you start and end work as well as when you take meal or rest breaks. This will help you determine if you worked any overtime hours and could serve as valuable evidence if wage or hour violations do occur.
You should always thoroughly review your completed timesheet and resulting paystub to ensure accuracy and consistency. It can be frustrating to find that you have not been appropriately paid for all of the hours you submitted. In these cases, consider contacting your employer’s payroll department and alert them to the discrepancy in writing. It is very possible that a mistake was made and the error will be promptly corrected.
You may find yourself in a situation where your employer’s payroll department claims you worked fewer hours than you actually did. In these instances, your employer may be deliberately “undercounting” your hours to save money and/or avoid paying overtime. Some employers may even tell you directly that they plan to undercount your hours due to budgetary concerns. This is where your proactive recordkeeping can serve as valuable evidence of the hours you worked. But don’t hesitate to contact an attorney even if you don’t have such evidence. Wage cases often succeed based on testimony and estimates of work hours.
If you are unable to resolve the dispute internally, you will likely need to hire a legal professional to help you recover what you are owed. Our unpaid time attorney can assist you with claims and legal remedies when you are unable to internally resolve disputes involving undercounted hours.
Some employers will make “off-the-clock” hours a distressingly regular practice. When you work “off-the-clock,” you work without pay, and any hours worked will not be reflected in your timesheet or contribute to potential overtime thresholds. A common example of “off-the-clock” work involves an employee coming into the office early to get a head start on the day’s tasks but not clocking in until the start of normal business hours. In another example, an employee might “take work home” to finish a project before a deadline.
Working early or late is permissible when employees are compensated for their labor. However, a business cannot ask, expect, or require an employee to work “off-the-clock.” If your boss is asking you to work hours that are not marked on your timesheet, they may be violating the law.
Employers will sometimes refuse to pay employees who work unauthorized overtime. This is also unlawful, even if the employer maintains a policy prohibiting unauthorized overtime. In these cases, employers can discipline employees but still must pay them for all hours worked, including any overtime hours at the appropriate rate of pay.
Note that legitimately “exempt” employees are not subject to overtime rules and therefore are allowed to work “off-the-clock.” However, exempt employees must take care to ensure they are not being mistakenly or deliberately misclassified by their employers. Only employees who receive a certain type and amount of salary or commissions and also meet other position-specific duties requirements can be considered exempt.
Filing an unpaid wage claim can enable you to recover what you are owed, as well as additional damages. At Fair Labor Law, we are extensively familiar with how these matters are adjudicated throughout the United States. Our unpaid time lawyer will work to advance your claim and secure the compensation you deserve.
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