Is It Legal To Work Off The Clock?

Most of us can't completely separate our work and home lives. Maybe you sometimes check email on weekends or return a phone call after hours. These actions generally don't pose a problem — especially if you choose to engage in them without being told to do so. And they are not the types of actions we are referring to when we mention working off the clock.

Instead, off-the-clock work is best understood as work performed at the behest of your employer, usually on a regular basis, that goes unpaid and undocumented. Your employer knows you are doing it, but with a wink and a nod, just doesn't pay you for it. If you are being required to work off the clock, you may want to discuss your concerns with an experienced employment law attorney like those at Moreland Law Firm, P.C.

Common Examples Of Off-The-Clock Work

As a general rule, being asked or required to work off the clock should raise some red flags. In many cases, it is illegal. Below are some common examples of when you might encounter such a requirement:

Too much work in a "no overtime" workplace: It is perfectly legal for your employer to prohibit working overtime. Many companies make it clear that non-exempt employees should not be working more than 40 hours per week. But if your employer prohibits overtime, your expected workload must be commensurate with a standard work week. If your expected output cannot be reasonably achieved in 40 hours, but you are nevertheless required to meet those output goals, you are essentially being forced to work unpaid overtime, which is illegal.

Unpaid preparatory and closing work: If you are spending significant time before or after your shift complying with job-related requirements, you should probably be getting paid for that time and effort. This could include:

  • Showing up significantly early to put on safety gear and equipment, or otherwise prepare for the day's work
  • Arriving early in order to travel to your work site in company-provided transportation
  • Staying significantly late to clean up, remove work gear, or pass through security screening before being allowed to leave
  • Being required to work during meal breaks

If these activities are essential or required and they take longer than a few minutes each day, your employer should be compensating you for this extra time and work.

Working as a manager/executive in name only: Certain workers, including managers, are exempt from overtime pay requirements. But if your job duties are not consistent with your managerial title, you may have been illegally misclassified.

Contact Us To Speak To A Lawyer For Free

Moreland Law Firm, P.C., serves clients in the Austin area and throughout Central Texas. We are pleased to offer free initial consultations to all prospective clients. To discuss your case for free with an experienced employment lawyer, call us at 512-782-2293. You can also send us an email.