Your employer can require you to work mandatory overtime. But, you also must be compensated for all time including overtime you work. Employers may need extra help to fill an order or cover for someone who is unable to come in for their shift.
While some people don’t mind working overtime, mandatory overtime can be extremely inconvenient for some employees. Someone may need to pick up their kids or have another job they need to get to. So, what are your rights?
Is Mandatory Overtime Legal?
In many businesses or fields of work, mandatory overtime is vital. If you work in an emergency room, or a factory where certain items need to be out by a certain time, failure to have enough employees to properly staff the employer can have devastating consequences.
But, if you have other obligations, your employer should try to find alternatives before forcing you to work, even if it is only an hour or two. Forcing someone to work overtime when they don’t want to or can’t isn’t fair, and there are likely plenty of people willing to do it.
Keep Track of All the Hours
It’s important to keep track of the mandatory overtime hours you work. Your employer may make you work overtime on a day, but unless your overtime is over 40 hours a week, you may not get paid for it unless you work in a state like California which has daily overtime rules.
If you only work part-time hours and your boss says you have to work mandatory hours past your scheduled shift, you will only receive your standard wage. If you refuse, the employer can fire you.
Understanding The Policy
It’s vital that you are aware of your company’s policies regarding overtime and how it is compensated. Of course, the employee handbook is designed to keep the company happy, not necessarily the employees.
If you are fired because you won’t work the overtime, your employer can say you were disobeying the company policies. You may also be disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits.
Your employer should be considerate enough to ask those willing and able to work mandatory overtime before making those with outside priorities. If you say, no thank you and are fired, it can be a difficult situation.
If you feel it was something else, that you were targeted knowing you would say no and then fired, you may have reason to file a wrongful dismissal case. If you feel it was discrimination or that your manager was purposing trying to get rid of you, you should talk to a lawyer.
Seeking Legal Advice
If you politely said no to mandatory overtime and explained to your manager why you couldn’t do it, and they fire you anyhow, you could consider talking to an employment lawyer.
They will listen to your potential case and help you decide if you have a case, or were just placed in an unfortunate situation. Hopefully, most managers are understanding and will not take such drastic measures.
But if you feel you were let go due to anything other than refusing to work mandatory overtime, then you may well have a case of wrongful dismissal. What you do with that is up to you, as many would be happy to get out of a situation like that. Some simply need the job.
If you find yourself in a situation where you simply can’t commit to working mandatory overtime and are either threatened with being fired or are fired, you can always talk to an employment lawyer.