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Off-the-clock work may be against the law

There are few people in California fortunate enough to feel that their paychecks really reflect what they have earned. You may be among those who feel your time on the job is much more valuable than what your boss pays you per hour, but the thought of a raise may be out of the question.

Even if your hourly wages seem unreasonably low, you still deserve compensation for every hour you work and every task you perform if you are properly classified as non-exempt. There may be times when you volunteer to work off the clock or when your manager insists on it. In either case, working without fair pay is a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) if you are truly non-exempt in the eyes of the law.

Employers cannot make you work without pay

Certain employees, such as executives and commissioned salespeople, are exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act. For those who are covered by the FLSA, the following applies:

When you put in time that your boss does not count toward your 40-hour workweek, you may be missing the opportunity to earn a higher rate for any overtime hours you work. If your company compensates you by the hour, your boss must include off the clock work on your paycheck. Some examples of off the clock work include the following:

  • Staying after you clock out to help a co-worker complete a task
  • Waiting for you employer to assign work to you
  • Coming in early to prep or set up your station before you clock in
  • Clocking out before beginning tear-down or clean up tasks
  • Driving to another location to deliver paperwork
  • Attending mandatory meetings or training on your own time without pay
  • Re-doing, repairing or revising a project when you are off the clock

Even if you volunteer to work off the clock, your employer is required to include pay for your time and to forbid the practice of off the clock work from happening in the future. Your employer may even hold a training session to refresh the entire staff on the FLSA laws regarding off the clock work.

If this does not happen and your employer fails to compensate you for the work you have done off the clock, you have a right to seek answers to your questions about how the law works for you. There are legal channels for pursuing the money your employer owes you, including any overtime that may have accumulated had your employer included your off the clock hours on your paycheck.

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