You work hard for your money, and you deserve to receive reasonable compensation as promised by your employer for the work you do. More importantly, you should also receive compensation that complies with federal employment laws, including overtime pay when appropriate.
Salaried workers typically do not receive overtime. Your employer can require that you work extra hours in the evening or on the weekend without paying you more. However, if you are an hourly worker who makes a different wage depending on how many hours you work in a given pay period, your employer has to give you overtime compensation for any hours that you work over 40 within a given week.
Understanding how to calculate overtime pay will help you stand up for yourself if your employer avoids giving you necessary overtime wages.
You have to know when the workweek starts
Although many companies begin their workweek on Mondays and end it on Fridays, it is not necessary that they do that. Companies can start their business week on any day, provided that it includes seven consecutive days and that they do not continually change it to avoid their overtime obligation.
Once you know when your week starts and ends, it will be easier for you to track the hours you work and determine whether overtime wages apply. Once you have put in 40 hours, your employer should pay you at least time-and-a-half or 150% of your standard hourly wage for additional time worked.
How companies avoid fulfilling their overtime wage obligation
Because employees are entitled to one and a half times their usual rate of pay, many companies will take extreme steps to avoid overtime. Quite a few businesses have specific policies that prohibit employees from accumulating overtime hours without written approval from management.
However, that policy can only leave you vulnerable to disciplinary action if you break it. It does not end your employer’s obligation to pay you in compliance with federal law, even if you don’t comply with company policy.
Some businesses will take things a step farther. If your employer has to meet certain labor cost goals, managers might manipulate time cards to reduce employee pay. Retaining your own records of when you worked and what you should receive is important because otherwise you are dependent on your employer to provide those records. If your records don’t match your payslip, discuss the issue with management or human resources.
If the problem remains a consistent issue, you may need to take legal action. If your employer does it to you, they probably do it to other people as well. You may be able to work together to bring a claim against your employer. Talking with an attorney who knows West Virginia and federal labor laws can help you determine if legal action is necessary to resolve your issue.