Wage theft is a big problem in America. According to studies, roughly 17% of low-income workers are victims of wage theft at any given time — and they lose roughly $3,300 per year of income.
The vast majority of employers carefully pay their employees whatever they do, but an unscrupulous few use all kinds of sneaky tricks to cheat their employees out of their overtime.
How employers avoid overtime pay
In Florida, overtime (also called “time and a half”) has to be paid whenever non-exempt employees work more than 40 hours per week. Overtime also kicks in when manual laborers work more than 10 hours in a shift.
To get around paying workers fairly, employers will sometimes engage in:
- Shift-splitting: You may know that you worked a 12-hour shift doing manual labor, which means you would be due two hours of overtime. However, your employer marks down on your time sheet that you worked two six-hour shifts with a few hours in-between.
- Vanishing hours: This is a pretty bold act, because it means that your employer is either assuming that you won’t notice that several hours were shaved off your time sheet or will be too intimidated to say anything.
- Hour shifting: Similar to shift-splitting, this tactic involves moving hours that should be paid as overtime to a new week so they are paid as regular hours instead. For example, if you worked 50 hours one week when your employer needed extra coverage, 10 of those hours may mysteriously end up allocated to the next week.
- Off-the-clock work: Another bold move by an employer involves telling employees that they need to either do their prep work or clean-up work “off the clock.” Again, these employers bank on the fact that many low-wage employees either don’t know this is illegal or are afraid to protest.
If you believe that you’re the victim of overtime theft, find out more about your legal options. Bad employers won’t stop what they’re doing until good employees fight back.