Jottings By An Employer's Lawyer

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Some Things About Wage and Hour Are Complicated, But Some Aren't


There are aspects of wage and hour law which can be quite complicated and involve judgment calls on which reasonable minds can differ. But the issue highlighted in this recent New York Times story, Employees go public about jobs that require working off the clock, is not. Knowingly allowing or requiring employees to work more than 40 hours without recording the time is not complicated, just wrong. The money quote, this time meant literally:
Many people who study business practices say off-the-clock work has become more prevalent because middle managers face greater pressure to lower labor costs and because the managers' bonuses may even be tied to cutting those costs. Off-the-clock work is most often found, they say, at workplaces that employ many immigrants, such as farms and poultry-processing plants, but the phenomenon has spread, especially among low-wage companies in the service sector. "There's more of this stuff going on than 10 and 20 and especially 30 and 40 years ago," said David Lewin, a human resources professor at the Anderson School of Management at UCLA. "There are a lot of incentives to engage in these kinds of practices, because they result in higher profits for the company, and they can lead to higher bonuses for local managers."
Employers should stop the practice because it is wrong, but if that is not enough incentive, they should check the growing number of collective action suits being brought under the FLSA and some of the rather hefty payments being made to resolve those claims.

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