Know your rights: working off the clock
Hourly workers in New Jersey are protected by both NJ employment laws and federal employment laws. One of the main legal protections for workers is that they are supposed to be paid for their labor. This means that working off the clock is usually illegal. If you perform work for your employer, you must be paid for that work. Moreover, you must be paid a fair wage for the work you perform.
Some examples of off-the-clock work performed by employees in New Jersey and elsewhere are prep work before a shift starts, work done cleaning up or finishing tasks after a shift ends, paperwork and other administrative work that includes reviewing work that was already done, revisions and reworking of projects that were previously completed, and time spent waiting for the assignment of work-related tasks.
NJ Workers Must Be Paid for Hours Worked
According to the Wage and Hour Division (WHD) of the U.S. Department of Labor, “hours worked refers to all time that an employee is required to be on duty or on the employer’s premises or at any other prescribed place of work. Regardless of whether you volunteered to remain at work after hours or your boss asked you to stay late at the office, you are supposed to be paid for that time. Moreover, if the extra time spent at your place of employment puts you beyond the standard 40 hours per week, you may be legally entitled to a higher rate of pay in accordance with overtime pay standards.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) stipulates that employees should be paid a minimum wage for their work and extra wages for overtime labor. Beyond that, the FLSA dictates that employees should be paid for all hours that they work, whether those work hours are on the clock or off the clock. Most employees are covered by the FLSA.
The idea behind protecting workers against being taken advantage of by employers is that there is often intense pressure on workers to “do more at the workplace. Even when you agree to do work after hours, it is simply not allowed under the FLSA because lawmakers recognized that many employers “ask without asking when it comes to off-the-clock labor. For example, your boss may have strongly suggested that you are expected to perform a certain work-related task off the clock or risk being denied a promotion. This kind of pressure is not okay because it directly violates federal laws meant to protect employees against being exploited.
If you have performed unpaid labor for your employer, you may need to file a complaint in order to get the wages you deserve. An experienced employment attorney can look over your situation and help you explore all your legal options for getting compensation.
If you believe you are owed money by your employer, you need to speak with a qualified employment law attorney. The experienced, knowledgeable employment lawyers at Team Law can help you with your case. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.