Does your boss make you work for free?

I used to work at a zoo. My least favourite program was the sleepovers because of the shady shady practices around how we were paid. Basically, we worked an 8hr shift, clocked off at 9pm, leaving an adult chaperone in charge of the kids, but we couldn’t leave. We’d attempt to sleep on horrible camp beds, get woken up if anything went down overnight (something always did), then wake up early to get breakfast for all the little darlings. Our boss said we could log an hour if we’d had to get up to help overnight. I lost count of all the violations. Should have got the union involved.

In the first case the person was having health problems and could no longer physically get the work done. So she’d clock out and continue working to try to get everything done she had been assigned. Which, by the way, was not helping her health problem. She eventually was let go because she could no longer physically do the job.

The second one… well, she’s a manager, but then had a health problem resulting in extended leave, and came back as a manager but on hourly pay rather than salary (where I work some management is hourly, some salary). Well, she was never terribly organized to begin with, but she seems to be having memory problems now, and is even less organized. She can’t get her act together so she clocks out and continues working trying to get more stuff done, because for whatever reason she can’t get it together and her stuff down in the allotted time. Granted that’s a problem we all have from time to time but for her it’s chronic. If she didn’t work off the clock she wouldn’t be hitting her targets. But, again, doing this isn’t helping her health. Of course, admitting she can’t get it all done might also cost her her job. It’s not a good position to be in.

I’ve known a couple other people to try working off the clock in order to impress an employer/brown nose/whatever but most employers are aware of the potential legal problems and don’t want any part of that. Employers who don’t care or who actively want that sort of misconduct are as a general rule not people I want to work for.

If you mean worker’s comp insurance, yes, I believe it will (although this might vary by state). First of all, if you are working off the clock you are still working. Even if you are not actually performing work, it covers you, for example, on your lunch hour if you are in the building; it covers you if you trip on the last step at the bottom of the stairs when are on you way out at night. It covers you for injuries connected with work, not only those that happen during regular work hours. My source is my father, who was a hearings officer for worker’s comp in the state we lived in at the time. I remember many stories of this type from my formative years.

I was thinking general liability or (example) you’re a company driver in some capacity.

It’s not just the labor board. An employee who wasn’t paid for all of his/her hours might file a civil suit against the company. Even if it was the employee’s idea to work off-book, he/she might claim (rightly or wrongly) that the employer encouraged the practice.

Working off the clock is a huge no-no for the mega-corp that I consult for and it is enforced. They will happily pay for overtime when certain people are needed so there is no point to it from either side. Like others have noted, the legal system takes a very dim view of making people work without compensation. There is a word for that.

I am in an unusual situation as well. I am almost just like an employee/manager but I can’t be treated like one explicitly because of the Microsoft case that showed they were abusing long-term contractors. I use that to my advantage. I treat my client very well but they can’t directly dictate my hours and I have to have better benefits than regular employees to show there is no abuse going on. Believe me, I can live with that type of arrangement indefinitely with no complaint.

I would call my state rep and state Attorney General’s office if someone tried to do that to me and I would encourage anyone in that situation to do so as well. It is highly illegal on the employer’s part and you could easily get more in a settlement than you would make in a year once it all shakes out plus you would be helping others to avoid the same situation.

But getting hurt as you’re leaving is entirely different than punching out and going back to work. I’d have to glance at my workers comp paperwork, but they may try to argue that if you’re working off the clock, you’re on your own since you’re also not paying into the worker’s comp fund. I should mention, however, that I don’t think I’ve ever had the WC people ask for proof that an employee was actually on the clock. OTOH, if I had someone that happened to work for me stop in at work on a non-work day (say, as a customer or to say hi) and get hurt, I may have to explain to the WC people that they were off duty.

Another thing to consider is that all those hours that you work off the clock don’t count towards your UC rate.* So if you punch out and stick around for another half hour each day, that’s $1300 (gross, at $10/hr, that’s quite a nice chunk of change, it’s almost a month for free), and if you get hurt or lose your job your UC or disability is going to be based on $4500 instead of $4800 per quarter.

This is one of the reasons they give wait staff to make sure (to try to get) they claim their tips instead of pocketing them as most of them do.

Any of my bosses at Blockbuster, from the best to the worst, would have been rightly horrified if anyone had worked off the clock. The rules were very explicit that you do not do that.

Absolutely not. I did a shift at one location and then was doing another shift at another. He told me instead of punching out and claiming travel, to stay punched in because I’d make more money that way. He got annoyed with me for coming in on a day off and not punching to work with tech support on a problem I was having, which was irritating but not preventing me from doing my job (I work nights and the emergency tech couldn’t help). It only took about 15 minutes but he made sure to manually add that to my pay.

My boss is awesome.

And if you’re short staffed to begin with, it’s a no-win situation.

My boss is, in part, a labor lawyer, so no. In fact once not long after I started, I was sent to an out-of-town conference. My return flight was delayed because of weather, then cancelled, and the flight I ended up on was diverted to Indianapolis because of ice on the runway in Chicago, sat on the runway in Indy for 2 hours, and then flew on to Chicago. The last conference session had started at 9 am, and I didn’t get home until 1:30 am the following day. When I explained what happened, I was told to claim OT for everything over 8 hours (and it was a Saturday, too).

The man drives me absolutely fucking bonkers on a daily basis in countless ways, but he’s scrupulously honest.

In a sense; yes. That huge internet based company that starts with the letter A and ends with a ZON requires that we address any issues with HR off the clock. And since the managers are always screwing up with when the shift ends and all, and we get UPT deducted as a result, everyone every week needs to talk to HR one or more times. Going to zero is the main reason folks get fired so its really a big deal and we don’t have any choice or any other way.

I work for a municipal library and I’m a member of AFSCME union. There is no way any of our supervisors would ever ask us to work a minute past the end of our shift. My former manager even tried to tell me not to read children’s books on my own time, because it might be misconstrued as unpaid work. I told her in the nicest possible way that I would read whatever the hell I wanted on my own time (I happen to love juvenile nonfiction and always have a stack to read at home).

When I was a teenager, I worked at a restaurant where the owner required us to exceed the allowable hours (for folks under 21). He had us clock out at the max hour point, and paid us cash out of the till for the difference. He also lost the restaurant and went to jail when the state labor board found out. IIRC, there were lots of other discrepancies (taxes) when they investigated him.

I once had a boss complain to me and my fellow coworker for showing up to work too early. We wouldn’t clock in, we just sat in our car outside of the warehouse waiting for the boss to show up and let us in.

I think this a fun story as it relates to the OP.

Given: 24 first shift hourly employees whose start time is 7 a.m.

The story: A printing company under the corporate umbrella (I worked system admin next door) had a longstanding policy of allowing their press crews to clock in up to 15 minutes before, and 5 minutes after, their official start time. Employees were paid appropriately, including overtime if they regularly clocked in early during the pay period.

At some point the corporate umbrella decide to change the policy such that hourly folks were required to clock in and out within three minutes either way. There was a little grumbling but it passed. Until…

The problem: There was only ONE time clock and it was impossible to process 24 employees unless they were ALL standing right there at 6:57 a.m.

The umbrella eventually folded and returned to the previous policy.

Union employee here. I clock out, I’m done for the day.

Nitpick- Sure it does.

Salaried exempt employees are paid by the job; they agree with their employer that their salary is compensation for all hours worked.

Source: am employment attorney.

Legally true. Practically irrelevant in many (most?) cases.

In the US, “salaried exempt” means work as close to 24/7/365 as possible. If you don’t, somebody else will.

Not to mention the widespread abuse of “salaried exempt” being applied to what ought to be hourly work. If you drive a computer in an office or from home, you ought to be on a clock.

I once worked for SAIC. Think of it as the small Halliburton of military science. They did not even mention this during the interview or hiring process. But once hired I was told I had to put in about 6 hours of “free” overtime per WEEK on my time sheet. Apparently some dumbassed part of the contract that they used to win the contract with the Air Force mandated that basically us engineers “worked” 46 hours a week but only got paid for 40. So hey, the gubment got a “free” six hours a week per person!

I hate to tell you fellow tax payers but you got a lot a “free” ball scratching from me during those shitty years.