Not Getting Paid For Overtime!

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about not paid for overtime:

We work an large amount of overtime and never get reimbursed for it. We are on salary and still get docked for every minute we are late or out. We recently received our paychecks and one of the employees was $346.00 short. She had more than enough overtime to cover it. We work on the weekends and stay late during the week and never have been paid for it. They want you to work, work, work, but when it comes time to be paid for the over time they will not pay you!

Signed, Concerned

Dear Concerned:

Issues related to salary and overtime can be very frustrating and financially damaging–especially when things are handled in the unclear way it seems is happening in your work situation.Your employment status is important–as well as any state laws that may apply. We often refer people to the department of labor for the state in which they work, since labor law issues vary dramatically. On the other hand, the size and nature of the business may have an impact as well–and may not come under state guidelines. Being as knowledgeable as possible about all of the laws, policies and procedures involved, will be helpful for you.

It seems the best way to start at your work is to write a letter to the person or office who develops the payroll, or to HR if there is a unit for that function, and ask for written material that clarifies how wages are paid. You likely received such material when you were hired so you may still have it.In your letter state your concern that employees are docked for time away, as if they were hourly, but not reimbursed for overtime, as though they were salaried. Ask for clarification about what status is maintained by employees and why the current situation is happening. You can do that in a courteous way, but in a way that is direct and concerned.Give an example of hours that were required to be worked overtime, for which no wages were paid, while hours were docked for time away. Make the case for the unfairness of that situation and ask for an explanation of it.

If your employer refuses to provide you with the information or explanation you need, or if it isn’t satisfactory, you have additional reasons to talk to your state department of labor or even to an attorney who specializes in labor law. Often such attorneys will give a one time, short answer on the phone, to let you know if there are legal or civil solutions.Do not accept the word of the payroll clerk or supervisor as the final word. If it appears there is a violation of company policy or if things are being done differently than you were told when you were hired, maybe that person is doing things wrongly. Go higher in the company if you have to.

Often owners and managers are not aware of how payroll is managed and simply assume it’s all done correctly.You may have a small enough business that you know everyone involved or you may not–but you need to ensure that decision-makers are aware of the negative affect the current situation is having on employees.If you were given information when you were hired that wages would be handled in this way, you may want to check with your state’s department of labor to see if there are any state guidelines those wage procedures might violate.After that, if you can’t get change based on the logical and humane aspects of the situation, your only recourse is to do as Dr. Gorden often suggests, and vote with your feet by finding better employment. That is never an easy decision, but if several of you threatened to do so, you might get action that would help everyone.If you have a skill that is transferable to another job, and have good evaluations in this one, you may find you would be much better off financially to work where wages are handled reasonably and fairly.

I do believe though, that you and others should start by talking to those in charge of determining your wages, then go as high as possible, to find out if there is a misunderstanding about your total hours and how you are to be paid. Best wishes with this situation. If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know what results.

Tina Lewis Rowe