Home Remedies For Overtime Pay

Home Remedies For Overtime Pay

Allergy sufferers may offer temporary relief from the payment of OT wages but employers run the risk of $erious $ide Effect$.

Let’s face it, everybody loves a good bargain. If you can reduce your labor costs by some neat trick, voila! You’ll have a bargain, in the short term anyway. The pressure to contain costs on every front has people in a constant state of stress which may lead to OT pay allergies. There are a lot of folks in business, owners and managers, who become so allergic they come to believe that OT pay is to be avoided at all costs, whatever the peril. These allergies can become chronic conditions and are highly contagious, sometimes passed down through generations. As of now, the only viable antidote that allows an employer to avoid OT pay altogether is to be flush enough with cash to be able afford a stable of attorneys who are better and meaner than anyone else can afford, including Uncle Sam. Even then, there are no guarantees.

The only known safe, and secure method of always avoiding OT pay is to not have people work over 40 hours in a week, period.

From its inception, the intent of OT pay was not to reward workers but to penalize employers. Legally it’s actually called an “overtime penalty”. The intent is to keep workers from working over 40 in a week as much as possible.

Some might say these musings are caustic or merely sarcastic puffery by the nattering nabobs of negativism* class of sideline critics. I won’t argue either point but they were born out of frustration from a cursory look at the Twitter feed with U.S. Dept. of Labor Wage & Hour news releases (WHD_DOL (@WHD_DOL) | Twitter).   About 20 accounts of FLSA violations with  about $8.5 million dollars in back wages, liquidated damages and civil monetary penalties. Keep in mind that this represents only a drop in the bucket of the agency’s overall activity, as well as the overall economy so the chances of one being singled out may be small.  But I’m reacting to the banality of the violations. I’m sure some employers were clueless that their pay methods were in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act.   (With that level of cluelessness on OT, what else might they be missing in others?)  I am sure the others merely rationalized their behavior with any number of reasons told a thousand investigators a thousand times before the usual, “But everyone does it this way.”)

The usual suspect violations made their appearances — paying a salary for all hours, deducting for lunches not taken, not keeping records of not paying OT, altering time records, deductions for poor work product or procedures, paying straight time for all hours worked, deductions for uniforms, taking workers off the clock in a slow period to have them wait for business upswing to punch back in, while making the assumption that all your workers are exempt, we assume the staffing company takes care of everything, even though you require more than 40 hours a week in work but stipulate no OT pay in contract, we are so small, we are so big, and a couple of others.

Truthfully there was only one interesting violation in the month, the appliance retailer Conn’s out of Houston had to cough up $400,000 because after having carefully structured their pay as qualifying for a partial OT industry and individual exemption, proceeded to dock employee pay for uniforms and sloppy paperwork to such an extent that they lost the exemption. They failed arithmetic. After setting up their pay system apparently no one with influence kept an eye on the arithmetic.

The take-away? There’s not much new under the sun when it comes to avoiding OT pay. And even if not paying it when it should be paid isn’t disclosed to the DOL or a law firm, don’t think that it goes unnoticed. It’s the birthplace of a great many disgruntled employees. How do you work that into the balance sheet?

— Ken Frazer

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