Almost everyone encounters an employer who refuses to pay overtime and/or employee benefits earned through the employees’ hard work. Some employers may try to get away with not paying because they think they can. Other employers are repeat offenders.
But what can you do? All too often, people think there is nothing they can do, or don’t take action in fear of losing their job. But, this really just amounts to employer theft and it needs to be addressed. You deserve pay for all work you perform including overtime and benefits.
What to Do When Your Employer Refuses to Pay Overtime and Benefits
It’s a sad truth, but there are plenty of employers who refuse to pay overtime and benefits. Employees often do not understand that they are legally entitled to overtime and benefits. Or, employees may think that it is too much of a hassle, or too difficult to bring a claim for unpaid overtime and benefits.
What are Overtime and Benefits?
There are always going to be minor exemptions, but the standard rules are pretty clear. Employers are legally required to pay employees all wages and benefits due for all work performed including overtime. Employees should familiarize themselves with the pay and benefits policies of their employers. Employers often use these policies to hide illegal ways they fail to pay employees all wages and benefits due.
Overtime is usually time and a half of whatever your regular wage rate. It is mandatory that your employer compensate you for all overtime you work. Overtime officially begins after you have worked 40 hours per week. The employer’s policy will generally set the workweek for overtime payment. The workweek is usually Sunday through Saturday. However, different employers set different workweeks for overtime payment purposes.
You should remember that your employer cannot pay you in “comp time” which is paid time off instead of overtime pay. The sole exception to this rule is that public employers such as governments can pay comp time. It is illegal for a private employer to pay comp time instead of overtime pay.
The wage laws do not require employers to offer any employee benefits. However, most employers do offer some benefits. Standard benefits often include medical and dental, paid leave for long-term illness or maternity leave, paid vacations, and even group health insurance. There can be other perks to your job as well.
Other employee benefits could be paid mileage for sales calls or distant meetings, paid training or education, clothing and meal expenses, and coverage for anything you are out-of-pocket for.
Again, it is vital that you know exactly what your benefits package contains and covers. An employer must administer any benefits its offer in accordance with its policies and plan documents.
If Your Employer Refuses to Pay Overtime or Benefits
You have two options if your employer is refusing to pay overtime and/or benefits you have earned: (1) talk to the employer in an attempt to informally solve the problem, or (2) file a claim with the DOL or through an attorney.
Talk To Management or Human Resources
While unlikely, it is possible that the employer made a mistake in failing to pay you all your wages and benefits You should discuss this with your manager or Human Resources if you are comfortable doing so and you believe that the employer does not know about the non-payment.
File a DOLClaim
You can file a wage claim with the Department of Labor (DOL). The DOL may conduct an investigation for you to help you get your wages that are owed. Many employees find the DOL investigative process slow and cumbersome.
Talk to a Lawyer
Most employees consult with an employment lawyer if the employer refuses to pay your overtime or benefits. An experienced employment lawyer can guide you in best recovering your unpaid wages and benefits.