Your department has a big project that needs to get done by Monday. On Friday, it’s not done yet, despite your best efforts.
Your boss tells you that you need to come in on Saturday to get it done in time. If you don’t, you’ll lose a big client. You think that at least you’ll get overtime pay, but then your boss tells you not to sign in — that you have to work off the clock.
Is this legal?
Typically, it is not legal if you’re paid an hourly wage. Your boss is just trying to get around the overtime laws to avoid paying you extra for your time. As an employee, you have a right to that higher pay rate when being asked to go above and beyond your normal hours — coming in on a Saturday when you worked 40 hours Monday through Friday.
You may be wondering why it is even a problem. What worker would come in and work for free?
It’s more common than you think. The issue is that workers want to keep their jobs. Even if they’re not getting paid, they worry that refusing to work the extra hours could get them fired. When the bills are due, they feel like they do not have any other options.
That doesn’t make it legal. Workers need to understand all of their rights. If those rights are violated and they have to take action, they may also have legal protections from retaliation, meaning it would also be illegal to fire them for bringing attention to the issue. An experienced New Jersey employment law attorney can help you protect your rights.