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Are More and More Employers Expecting Workers to Work Overtime Without Pay?

Posted on behalf of Peter T. Nicholl in Unpaid Overtime Jul 22, 2022

woman on couch using smartphoneEmployees in a variety of industries have been doing a lot of off-the-clock work. Many think that there is an unspoken expectation from their employer that they put in this extra work. Employees may also feel they need to put in this extra work simply to keep up.

According to a study from ADP Research Institute, one in 10 employees are putting in more than 20 hours of extra work each week, and they are not being paid for it. Workers are also averaging 9.2 hours of unpaid overtime each week.

While some employees may think they are classified as exempt from overtime, that is not always the case. There are a lot of misconceptions about exemptions from overtime pay laws. Other employees know they should be receiving overtime but decide not to speak up about it.

If you have been denied overtime pay after working more than 40 hours in a week, our experienced attorneys are ready to help you discuss legal options. An initial consultation with a Maryland unpaid overtime lawyer is free of charge.

What is Off-the-Clock Work?

Off-the-clock work is anything you do for your employer while you are not clocked in. This often refers to things you do before or after your shift.

However, these activities should be included in your hours worked. There are three criteria we can use to define hours worked:

  • Time when you are required to be on-duty and working for your employer, even if you are not at your place of employment
  • Any time your employer allows you to work, whether you are required to be working productively or not
  • Any time you do work related to your job for the benefit of your employer, whether you were explicitly told you were allowed to do work or not

How Employers Encourage Off-the-Clock Work

Unfortunately, off-the-clock work has become all too common for many employees. If they are already working 40 hours on the clock, they may be regularly working overtime hours without receiving overtime compensation.

Common examples of off-the-clock activities include:

  • Putting on a uniform or equipment, such as safety gear
  • Cleaning up an area/workstation
  • Stocking workstations
  • Checking email and responding to email from home or outside of the office

Employers may claim they are not aware of some of the off-the-clock work their employees are doing. In the case of checking email, that may be true.

However, employers often encourage off-the-clock work. They may say they would like their employees to be working the moment they clock in. For some employees, the only way to make sure they are ready to get to work is to arrive early so they can put on a uniform or equipment.

Employers may get upset if an employee does not respond to an email he or she receives after hours until the next day. This tends to leave workers with the expectation that they do off-the-clock work.

However, even if employers can legitimately claim they are not aware of off-the-clock work, it is up to them to keep track of the hours worked. While it is helpful for employees to inform their employers of overtime hours worked, you may not need to prove you did this to have a valid unpaid overtime claim. However, when other employees can attest to a workplace culture that encouraged off-the-clock work, it can make your case much stronger.

An experienced attorney can review your situation to determine how to obtain strong evidence of your off-the-clock work. This goes beyond emails, text messages or cellphone records. Your attorney may check your driving and GPS records to determine where you were when you were off the clock.

Should Your Employer Be Taking Steps to Prevent Off-the-Clock Work?

Yes, your employer should be taking reasonable steps to discourage off-the-clock work. For example, some employers may limit access to work email or assignments. Employers may need to monitor employees to make sure they leave when the office closes or their shift is done. Employers may also need to ensure employees are taking breaks when they are supposed to.

Can Employers Require You to Work Overtime Hours?

Yes, overtime work can be required. However, you must receive overtime pay for the overtime hours you work. Employers should also be upfront about overtime work – when a job requires frequent overtime work, employees are usually informed during the hiring process.

The problem is many employers never say certain groups of employees may need to work overtime hours, even though the employer is expecting overtime work. They require employees to do so many tasks there is no way the employees can avoid overtime work. The employees accept it as part of the job.

Employees may have heard that employers can fire you for refusing to work overtime if it is required by law. However, if you are working overtime you are supposed to be paid at the overtime rate.

Denied Overtime Pay? Call to Discuss Legal Action

For decades, the attorneys at The Law Offices of Peter T. Nicholl have been advocating for employees who were denied overtime pay. We have secured millions on behalf of our clients, and we are ready to aggressively pursue the wages you were illegally denied.

Call today to discuss your legal options at no cost to you. 410-244-7005

Contact our personal injury lawyers for a free consultation if you have been injured by another’s negligence. You may be entitled to compensation.

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