Longer Workdays During Pandemic Raise Overtime Pay Questions
According to a study of over 3 million workers that compared data from before and after Covid-19 lockdowns, workdays are 48.5 minutes longer, the number of meetings has increased and workers send more emails per day.
It’s almost as if WFH means work 24 hours
As the pandemic and resulting work from home continue, we are increasingly hearing from employees who want to know if they are entitled to overtime pay for all of the extra time they are spending doing work from home. The short answer is – it depends on whether your job is “exempt” or “non-exempt” from the overtime pay laws. If your job is exempt (eg. salaried managers, supervisors and executives), you are likely not entitled to extra pay, however, if your job is non-exempt (eg. non-management), you are probably entitled to premium pay if you are working overtime…even if the work is done from home, at odd hours and in your PJs.
While work conditions may have changed, the overtime laws have not
Months into this nationwide work-from-home experiment with no end in sight, the boundaries between work-life and home-life have almost entirely disappeared.
With the office only a few steps away now, the 9-to-5 workday has morphed into 12 plus hour days. With no commute and nowhere to go in the evenings, workers are “always on” and getting on their computers earlier and continuing to work later, as evidenced by a spike in computer use from midnight to 3 a.m. With nothing to do and nowhere to go, employees feel like they have no legitimate excuse for being unavailable and feel pressured to prove they’re working.
Employers are largely free to demand more, and even odd, hours of work, however, the law still requires them to properly compensate employees for all time spent working. For non-exempt employees (including almost everyone paid hourly or a day-rate) this means overtime pay is owed for all hours over 40 per workweek. For many now working 50 to 60 or more hours per week, the added pay they are owed can be significant. Workers are often shocked to find out how much their case is worth.
Common Overtime Pay Issues during Work-From-Home
The most common overtime pay issues we are seeing during work-from-home are:
- Off the Clock work,
- Straight time hourly pay for Overtime, and
- Failing to include any bonus or incentive payments in the calculation of overtime. Pandemic pay and other similar incentive bonuses must be calculated into overtime pay rates. Despite what some workers are being told, there are no special rules or exceptions for additional pay during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The most common industries and job categories in which we are seeing these issues arise are ones that are in high demand at this time, including:
- Mortgage loan officers/processors,
- Financial services back office support,
- Web-based technology sales and support,
- Telecom and IT support,
- Healthcare and Lab/Diagnostic workers,
- Call center customer service representatives,
- Warehouse and distribution center workers,
- Cleaning and sanitization services, and
- Manufacturing and production workers
Have You Been Denied Overtime Pay during the Pandemic?
Everyone needs to do their part during these difficult times, and for employers, that includes keeping employees safe and complying with the wage and hour laws to ensure that workers are properly compensated for their vital role in keeping businesses running. Although compliance with the wage and labor laws is technically the sole obligation of the employer, in reality, it is important for workers to familiarize themselves with federal and state wage laws in order to protect their fair pay rights. There is a lot of money at stake on this issue and you should seek guidance from an overtime pay lawyer if you have any doubt as to your rights and your employer’s compliance.
If you are working long hours with no overtime pay and your job duties or salary amount do not meet the requirements for exemption from the overtime laws, please contact us for more information and a free and confidential review of your situation.