It is no revelation that the economy has created some tough times for businesses and their employees. Over the past year, company budgets are being slashed, along with the number of employees and available hours. Most managers are looking around and suddenly realizing that their departments are required to accomplish the same amount of work with half the people. From a wage and hour perspective, these conditions are clearly a recipe for a disaster.
Under the present economic realities many supervisors are trapped with little ability to approve overtime. Moreover, a large number of employees may be afraid to even request approval for overtime because they believe the request will be viewed demonstrating an inability to perform their job at the expected level (and thus place them at the top of the list for the next round of layoffs). The result is a failure to pay overtime evolves into a tacit understanding between management and employees that no one will mention how the work gets done as long as it gets done and everyone keeps their jobs.
Employers know that this situation is unlawful. Perhaps what they fail to consider is that whatever monies are saved in wages is infinitesimal when compared to the attorneys’ fees and damages in the class action lawsuit surely to follow. For that reason, human resource professionals should take the time now to train and remind all managers and supervisors of the importance of the company’s off the clock policy. The short run gain garnered by looking the other way will inevitably result in creating a disgruntled employee or ex-employee who reveals the practice – at a very high cost.