How to Handle A Breach Of Contract

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors aboutĀ  overtime pay:

I work for a local authority as a support worker and in my contract of employment it states I shall be paid time and a half for working certain hours (weekends and unsociable hours after 8pm). I have not been paid anything except my basic rate. When I queried this I was informed that because I (and every single employee) did extra hours I forfeited my entitlement to the enhancements (this is NOT written in my (or anyone else’s contract). Also the service manager sent out an email to all managers requesting names of employees that had not signed the casual register (overtime). I would really appreciate your expert opinion on this matter.

Signed, Frustrated and Upset

DearĀ Frustrated and Upset:

I’m sorry but we won’t be much help about the validity of the overtime actions. We aren’t labor attorneys and don’t have expertise about such matters, especially out of the country.However, I can make suggestion or two about the overall situation, because it is the type of thing that can become a long, drawn-out fight that no one wins.It sounds as though once the issue of overtime was brought up, management decided to go on the offensive and point out that it was employee actions that caused the situation.If you can, avoid letting this disagreement become a source of anger and bitterness that makes everything at work become unpleasant.

Try to stick to facts rather than emotion and help others do so as well.If there is someone higher than the person who is making the pronouncements about all of this, perhaps you will need to escalate to that level. If you have an HR section, this might be something to take to them. If you have a copy of your contract you certainly can use it to show the problems.

The main thing is to read it carefully and make sure you are on the right track. Usually managers know where they stand with it, especially if they knew they weren’t paying you overtime that, logically they could assume would be questioned. If all of you are having similar problems and you are owed money from the past, you will probably need to consult a labor attorney about it.

Often attorneys will give a free consultation to let you know if you have a case. Then, they will often work on a contingency basis and only collect money if your side prevails. That’s not always the situation, but worth looking into.I can imagine how upsetting it is to not only be expecting overtime and not get it, but to be told it’s your own fault when you had not been told anything to change about it. I’m hoping that showing HR or your managers the contract and asking for further explanation will clear things up in your favor. If not, I’m sorry to say that I think legal action may be your only option, unless there is someplace higher in the company to go to.Best wishes to you with this.

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.