Although most new employees enquire regarding their rights from employers, especially about wages, compensatory time and overtime, they usually are not fully aware of employment law. This leads to information asymmetry, and employers can use this to enforce rules and regulations that classify as violations of employee rights. To prevent such violations in the workplace and ensure that employees receive their full rights, it is important for workers to learn employment laws and the things they cover.
The most common of these violations include:
1. Unpaid compensable time, including overtime:
Compensable time at work refers to both, overtime and your regular work hours including any time you perform your duties such as wearing protective equipment, taking inventory of stock, setting up and clearing work areas and attending shift changes. Any extra time you spend in work, regardless of whether it was required by your employer or not legally entitles you to compensation. These laws are enforced by states and may differ from one state to the next. For example, in New Jersey, any hours put in by employees on top of a 40-hour work week entitle them to compensation at a rate of one and a half times their hourly wage. In case you are a victim of workplace violations due to unpaid overtime by a New Jersey employer, you can file an unpaid overtime claim against your employer with the help of a lawyer.
2. Unpaid bonuses or commissions:
Although not regulated by federal law, commissions and bonuses are most usually offered to employees based on performance and sales quotas and are an agreement between you and your employer. In case you are promised a bonus or commission and do not receive it, it is a violation of your rights.
3. Misclassification of employees as either exempt workers or independent contractors:
Misclassifying employees as exempt workers allows employers not paying the overtime the workers are entitled to receive since the federal law states that exempt employees are not entitled to overtime compensation. Misclassifying employees as independent contractors also gives employers the same liberty. As such, employees are self-employed, so do not come under the wage and tax laws employees are covered by. Independent contractors also do not qualify for certain benefits including medical and dental advantages. Thus, it is important for you as an employee to know what classification you come under to ensure you are not being kept from what is owed to you by your employer.
4. Miscalculation of overtime pay:
All the time you put in over a workweek encompassing 40 hours comes under Overtime and the employer must pay it accordingly. Although you may get paid weekly, bi-weekly, or on a semi-monthly or monthly basis, overtime should always be calculated according to Monday – Friday work week. It is best if you keep track of any overtime yourself to ensure you get the pay for what you have worked for. Since many employees depend on overtime to keep their budgets running, miscalculated overtime pay could put them in further difficulties.
5. Giving employees compensatory time rather than overtime pay:
Many employers, instead of paying employees for overtime work, allow them to have the option of taking compensatory time, which are paid days off. Although legal, depending on your classification as an employee, compensatory time must always be paid at a rate equal to overtime. However, comp time, as it is also known, cannot be offered to nonexempt employees and doing so is a workspace violation.
As an employee it is important for you to know employee law as well as the benefits and compensations you are entitled to. For private employees, it is necessary to look at the company policy and state laws to know your rights and avoid any violations. In case you become victim of a violation, you should contact an employment lawyer. They will help you figure out the compensation you are entitled to and would advise you on further steps to attain it.
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