Off The Clock

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about working off-time:

I work as an infusion room nurse in a small but very busy clinic. Our staff seldom has time or coverage for lunch and taking a 10-minute break is also a luxury we do not get. Yet we are still required to clock out for 1/2-hour lunch and document false breaks. We’re burnt out. What to do?

Signed, Burnt Out

Dear Burnt Out:

You and your staff are working off the clock and you need lunch and 10 to 15 minute breaks. The pressure of your job is intense and apparently your supervisor has insisted that you work during clocked-out time. That’s illegal with few exceptions. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employers are required to keep records indicating the wages and hours, and working off the clock is subject to prosecution.FLSA regulations stipulate that overtime hours worked must be paid at a rate of at least one and one-half times the employee’s regular pay. Hourly employees may be granted a lunch or other meal period that is unpaid and of a non-work status. This period is usually at least 30 minutes in length. During unpaid meal periods, the employee must be completely relieved of all duties and free to leave the duty post. Rest periods may go unpaid is if an employee extends his/her break beyond the amount of time authorized. Only salaried workers in administrative, executive and professional jobs are exempt from overtime; the law does not require their hours on the job to be recorded. Pressure is intense to get more out of hourly workers in both small and large established companies. The demand for off the clock labor has crept more and more into the ranks of big business, even professional medical facilities, such as your clinic. In the past few years the Federal Government has taken action against companies like T Mobile, Wal-Mart and Radio Shack, but I have not heard of action against hospital organizations. Two references can be accessed on the Internet:

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