For business owners, all that matters — in many cases — is their bottom line. They’re just trying to make as much as possible and keep expenses as far down as possible. They may talk about other goals — reaching the community, expanding their business, meeting needs, etc — but their main goal is still just turning a profit.
What happens when the boss says, “Clock out, but keep working”?
Unfortunately, when business owners take this too far, they may tell you to work off the clock. There are plenty of examples, and some are blatant. For instance, some employees whose hours are tracked by computer have been told to log out but that they can’t leave. In other cases, they may be pressured to work through breaks. They may also be told that they can only record 40 hours per week, but that they had better stay at the office until that project is done.
The goal of these actions by employers — which are illegal — is to milk as much work out of employees as they can, without paying extra. After all, overtime pay is time and a half. An employer may do everything possible to avoid increasing someone’s wages, even when that employee is needed for more than 40 hours.
To get workers to comply, employers may make it clear that they will only get to keep their jobs if they go along with this schedule. Faced with the prospects of losing their jobs, desperate workers go along with it.
What are your rights?
You need to know that forcing you to work off the clock or neglecting to pay overtime are both illegal actions. If your employer does either one, you must know what steps to take to protect your interests.