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What if your boss asks you to work off-the-clock?

When your boss asks you to stay later than your scheduled hours, you likely appreciate the opportunity to earn a little extra money. Every little bit helps, and if you stay late often enough, you may even qualify for overtime pay. However, what happens if your boss asks you to stay after you have already clocked out?

According to the Fair Labor Standards Act, any time you work beyond 40 hours in a workweek counts as overtime, you should be paid at 1.5 times your regular pay rate for every hour you work beyond 40. If your employer is asking you to work off-the-clock, not only are you losing pay for those hours you work, but since those hours don't count toward your accumulated time for that week, you may also be losing the chance to earn overtime pay for future shifts.

Examples of off-the-clock violations

Like all employers, yours undoubtedly has a limited amount of money to spend on labor. To keep costs low, your manager may have been instructed to prevent you and your coworkers from earning overtime pay. If this means making you work off-the-clock, however, it is a violation of state and federal employment laws, and your employer could face serious legal consequences. Some common ways in which your employer may have you working off-the-clock include:

  • Making you clock out during down time when you are required to stay on site and wait for your next assignment
  • Making you clock out before you correct mistakes in a project or redo an incorrectly completed task
  • Making you set up your station or prepare for your shift before you clock in
  • Making you clock out before you do post-shift jobs like cleaning, finishing a task or dropping off equipment at another job site
  • Making you review paperwork, complete charts or handle administrative tasks after you clock out
  • Scheduling you for mandatory training or meetings off-the-clock

You may also volunteer out of the kindness of your heart to remain after your shift and help a coworker finish a task. You may offer to come in on your day off to finish up some loose ends on a project. Even if you voluntarily do these things without compensation or without your hours counting toward your 40-hour workweek, your employer may still face penalties and damages.

It is possible that your employer is unaware of being in violation of employment laws. It could be that your employer is confused about your employment classification. However, whether your boss intentionally or unintentionally prevents you from earning the overtime pay you deserve, you have the right to seek back pay and other damages.

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