Help Wanted: Boss must pay hourly worker for 7 a.m. meeting

A company can only skip paying you for

A company can only skip paying you for attending a meeting held before your shift if four criteria are met. (Credit: iStock)

DEAR CARRIE: Our employer wants us to report for a 7 a.m. meeting. That's an hour before our normal start time. Do we have to be paid for that hour? -- Paid Meeting?

DEAR PAID MEETING: If you are a nonexempt employee, which generally means hourly, you have to be paid for that time. The company could legally get out of paying you only if that meeting met all of the four following federal criteria: It is outside normal hours; it is voluntary; it is not job-related, and no other work is performed during that time.

Your meeting easily comes out as time that must be paid, if you are nonexempt. Hopefully, you have to be paid, which no doubt would make that ungodly meeting time seem less so.


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DEAR CARRIE: Can you tell me if I have a claim? I worked as a manager and supervised one person. When I was promoted to the position, I was told that managers receive no overtime pay, no matter how many extra hours they worked. But now people are telling me that I had to supervise a minimum of two people to be a bona fide manager. By that reasoning I am due overtime pay for the many weeks I worked more than 40 hours as a "manager of one." Is this correct? -- Wrong Title?

DEAR WRONG TITLE: They're right.

To be considered a manager, you have to supervise at least two full-time employees, said Irv Miljoner, who heads the Long Island office of the U.S. Labor Department. In fact, you have to meet all of a four-part test that includes the minimum number of people you must supervise.

Those criteria are: The manager must be paid at least $455 per week ($600 under New York labor law); the employee's primary duty must be managing; the employee must regularly direct the work of at least two full-time employees or their equivalent, and the employee must have the authority to hire or fire or to give recommendations on those matters.

"Since your reader only managed one employee, he or she does not meet the third criteria," Miljoner said. Thus, "the reader is not exempt, and should be paid overtime premium pay for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek."

For more information, call the U.S. Labor Department at 516-338-1890.

DEAR CARRIE: Since October I have worked part-time for a retail chain. When I was hired I was told that my hours would vary from week to week. I didn't mind, because initially I received a weekly schedule about a week and a half ahead of time. But soon after, the lead time shrank and the schedule was emailed to employees on Tuesdays for work as soon as the Saturday or Sunday after. Now I receive the schedule on Fridays, for shifts that begin on Sunday, providing me just a two-day notice when I have to work that day. Is this legal? The late notice leaves too little time for me to schedule other things in my life. -- Short Notice

DEAR SHORT NOTICE: There ought to be a law. But there isn't.

Here is what the state Labor Department said:

"There is no provision in the labor law requiring employers to provide work schedules within a certain period of time." But it added that, "A collective bargaining agreement may stipulate the amount of lead time a manager is to give an employee when delivering a work schedule."

That said, federal law prohibits employers from changing schedules to avoid paying workers overtime when they work more than 40 hours a week.

I would advise you to have a polite conversation with your supervisor to try to reach a compromise. Businesses almost always have some flexibility to accommodate employees.

For more on federal labor-law criteria defining "manager" go to http://1.usa.gov/xrA4DG; for more on what qualifies as work under federal labor laws go to http://1.usa.gov/o3pznA.