When is 40 hours, not "40 hours?"

Okay, so gone are the days of “Ward and June Cleaver” where father returns at precisely 5:09 pm from his 9 - 5 job, kissing his eagerly waiting perfect wife and charming kids, and later sits down at the table for dinner precisely at 5:30 pm…

Work weeks have been changing dramatically to, say for instance working four, 10-hour days and other schedules involving different pay rates and hours. So, if you had previously thought that just working 40 hours in one week is perfectly okay, and letting some of those 10-hour days actually be 11 or 12-hour days that follow or lead the "shorter" ones then odds are you could be opening yourself up to a whole lot of problems that you may not be aware of, according to the FLSA laws. (Fair Labor Standards Act)

Why is that so?

Basically an employer must pay nonexempt workers the proper overtime premium for all hours worked over 40 hours in the "workweek." This many not mean a regular "calendar" week. So if your employee has a schedule of four, 10-hour days in a week, and that employee works a nine-hour day, an eight hour day, an 11-hour day and a 14-hour day—for a grand total of 42 hours, that nonexempt worker is due 2 hours of overtime, according to the FLSA. That is no matter if the employee worked those first two days shorter than the 10 hours scheduled.

The more you look closer at this issue, the more you see that there are lawsuits out there against employers that are knowingly, or unwittingly, violating the FLSA laws when it comes to this subject—so don’t let your company be one of them!

I guess the final sentence kind of sums the whole thing up—“Employers sometimes believe that they can bypass legal impediments to innovative scheduling by asking employees to agree to the new arrangements, particularly if the employees asked for them in the first place. If employees consent to the changes or even push for them, the thinking goes, it is no longer necessary to be concerned about the 'workweek' concept, averaging overtime hours against non-overtime ones, and so on. This is a perilous misconception.”

If you are looking for more information, we invite you to read this article: http://www.workforce.com/section/03/feature/25/83/38/

--C. Cook

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