COVID19: While Working From Home, Don’t Get Cheated Out of Overtime

  1. Coronavirus Situation
  2. COVID19: While Working From Home, Don’t Get Cheated Out of Overtime
young woman working

As more and more people work from home due to COVID19, employers and employees should have a clear understanding of how they are to be paid, so they can avoid unnecessary problems. When employers, allow or require workers to work from home, there should be clear guidelines and expectations of how many hours are to be worked and how they should be recorded. The Fair Labor Standards Act requires that employees are paid for all hours that they actually work.

  • If they actually work more than 40 hours in any given workweek, then they’re entitled to time and a half their regular rate for all hours worked.
  • Employers, on the other hand, are also entitled to not pay for hours that aren’t actually worked.

When working from home, employees have much more discretion and latitude on how and when to work. Employers should set out clear expectations during the COVID19 pandemic for the amount of work time that needs to be completed, and how those work hours are to be reported. Hourly workers should be careful to record time for only hours they actually work; not hours they spend, playing with their kids surfing the internet or otherwise engaged in non-productive personal time. It’s important for workers to establish trust. Trust with their employers that they are delivering productive time to employers for the time they work at home, just as if they were in the office.

Similarly, employers should trust their workers to report their times accurately and truthfully. One way that overtime and minimum wage issues arise, is when workers and employers do not have clear communication on what it means to work and what it means to report their time. Employers should stress to workers that they should claim all hours they actually work, and provide time estimates on how long tasks should take.

Good communication via email, FaceTime, Zoom or plain telephone calls is one way to ensure active participation by employees in the workforce remotely. Employers should avoid using phrases like quote:

  • We don’t pay overtime.
  • We’re not going to pay for hours over 40.

When what they really mean is:

  • We don’t want you working for more hours than 40.
  • We don’t want to pay overtime unless it’s absolutely necessary.

If a job traditionally requires only 40 hours a week, and the worker does not normally work more than 40 hours, then an employer has a reasonable expectation that the employee is not going to work 50 hours at home in order to run up overtime. Alternatively, if a job generally requires 45 or 60 hours a week, then it is unreasonable to assume that just because the worker is at home, then they’re not actually working those hours.

In conclusion, during the COVID19 pandemic, the key is communication, employers should objectively, and clearly state their expectations, employees should document all of their time. Check out more overtime blogs.

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