Say you get hired for a job and you’re on salary, and not being paid by the hour. Say when you’re hired for said job, you were told you would be working 5 days a week, Monday - Friday 9-5.
What do you do when you’re boss tells you you’ll have to start working on two Saturdays a month and until 6 when you do work and does not raise your salary? As an alternative to getting paid more, would you then be able to negotiate coming in at 10 and then take off one day on the weeks that you work on Saturdays?
Or are people on salary just screwed and at the mercy of their boss’ every whim?
It also makes a difference if you are exempt or non-exempt (from overtime laws). I always thought they were the same but my company does have salaried non-exempt employees (who get paid overtime) and exempt employees who get paid an hourly rate (but do not get paid overtime).
You are generally just screwed in a way especially if the increase in work is temporary. I am on call 24 hours a day 6 days a week for example and it gets used. I didn’t really know the full extent of that when I took the job but that is what it takes. However, salaried workers are not slaves and are not supposed to act like one. You can try to negotiate whatever you want at any time and it is usually in the employer’s best interest not to be overly demanding or they will start losing valuable employees to companies with more fair working conditions.
My job requires me to work nights and weekends occasionally. I just got through working Saturday and Sunday (~8:30 AM - ~9:30 PM) and I am going home tonight at about 10 PM.
When I am on-site at an installation, I typically work whatever shifts the machine is being used to observe operations. Sometimes this requires ludicrous hours; 20 hour days are not uncommon. I am compensated well, but if I were to calculate my hourly rate, I would be unhappy, so I don’t.
But, in my industry, this kind of overwork is fairly common.
Robotics isn’t for sissies.
It varies too much to give a definitive answer. I know a big company in semiconductor capitol equipment got sued a few years ago for having people on salary who should be hourly. The company I was working for at the time switched all similar jobs to salary in response.
I will say, in most places, that temporary or unplanned increases in hours are generally allowed.
Here’s a related question: the small company I work for merged with another small company three years ago. I accepted relocation down to an NJ office as my original office was being closed down. I’m the only employee that relocated. My original employment terms specified a 40-hour work week, 9-5. Now after three years they believe my work hours should be “brought in line with the standard in this office”. The standard in this office is an 8.5 hour work day.
This standard has not been applied to others who relocated to a different office, chose to telecommute, etc. I also have a relocation offer letter that states my terms of employment will not change. Can they do this? I know that’s only an extra half hour a day, but that amounts to over three weeks per year that, as a salaried employee, I would not be paid for. And since our vacation is allotted as a set number of hours per year, rather than days, I lose 1.5 days worth of vacation time.
Can they do this? Simply ask me to work extra time each day, on a permanent basis, without being paid more? It’s irritating enough that some employees are given comp time when they are required to do work on the weekend, and I am not!
My understanding (not an attorney!) is that you’re essentially screwed. Employment contracts are generally made “at will” for both parties. That means they can fire you at any time, and you can quit at any time. It also means that either you or they can change the conditions that you will work in, and the other party has only one recourse: to end employment.
While that’s theoretically the law, though, the particulars end up looking a little different sometimes. If I recall correctly, in my state the company had to pay unemployment benefits of some amount if they fired an employee “for cause” (ie. not just downsizing) and they couldn’t find a replacement job.
My advice is to decide whether or not the extra half hour/day (AND the setting of precedent!) is enough to make you want a different job. If so, do it, and if not, don’t.
A more risky strategy may be to either tell them “hey, my contract says you won’t change my hours”, and another such strategy might be to stick to the original terms regardless and see what happens. Both of these may land you without a job, but both MIGHT also get you what you want. I don’t advise either because I think the chance of success is low. On the other hand, if you’re NICE about the former, they’re not going to fire you over it – they’ll just likely tell you about how times have changed.
That letter could form a binding agreement in some jurisdictions, but you need expert legal advice to know what effect it has. If you can’t get a straight answer out of W&H Div, google up a Bar Association Legal Referral program (its by county in NJ) - you can get a 1/2 hr consultation for a flat fee, usually around $30.
You work the extra time and start looking for a new job. Then when you find one, you quit ideally at the worst possible time for the company. When they ask why you quit, you tell them. When they say you should have brought it up rather than finding another job, you say “I did, and I was told it was not my place to question a business decision…ASSHOLE!”
Outside of edit so I am quoting myself
In case someone was calling BS (and I would have after rereading my post) “one 20 hour day was followed by a more reasonable 10 or 12 hour day” is what I was attempting to convey.
I can get by with 3 hours of sleep in one day but not less than that.
I might be able to get by with less than that, but I haven’t tested the envelope recently.
You could certainly have a discussion that included the original terms that you agreed to and why they’re pulling a bait and switch, and re-negotiating wages and time off, but if they stick to the new deal and you don’t have anything in writing, you’re probably looking at either turning the job down at that point or working it and looking for a new one (hopefully with people who aren’t dicks).
A first step would be to look up your local labour laws, too - there may be limits on how much even salaried employees can work in your location.
The total lack of contractual support for many data professionals is rather remarkable.
I guess most of us expect that if laid-off each would be able to find new positions.
That may be a fool-hardy approach, but it is common.
In some areas, like CA, if you really aren’t Exempt, you could file a claim for all the back-pay and overtime after you leave the job, assuming you keep records. Also nice would be emails asking you to work late, weekends etc. A good idea might be a innocent sounding email question like "Do I get anything comp or over time for the extra work?
You could file the claim in the middle of your job, but your employer will likely find some reason to fire you are make you quit.
In a real salaried but non-exempt job, the assumption is that you work a AVERAGE of a 40 hour week, with some extra needed now and then at crunch time, but also taking a half day off to play golf is also OK. My job (salaried Govt worker) is only up to a hour either way, as long as it averages out to 40 hours a week.