Americans are working harder than ever. At least we’re working more hours. As unemployment remains constant, people are afraid of losing their jobs, which means they’re willing to put up with poorer working conditions. When companies use a low economy to take advantage of their employees, it’s time for the government to intervene.
Despite the clear guidelines for overtime that are laid out in the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), many companies continue to misclassify employees as exempt from overtime, even if they don’t meet all the requirements.
One of the requirements for the overtime exemption is that an employee must be paid a salary of at least $23,660 per year, which leaves many people at or below the poverty line. Nevertheless, millions of employees paid at this very low level are made to work more and more hours. Many of them put up with it out of fear of losing their only income, or because they simply aren’t aware of the law’s more specific requirements for overtime exemption.
The minimum required salary for the federal overtime exemption has not been substantially raised since 1975, when more than half of all salaried employees fell within the requirement for overtime pay. Today, less than 10% of workers fulfill the salary requirement, according to the Economic Policy Institute. That leaves companies free to pressure more and more of their employees into working longer and longer workweeks, without any extra pay.
Forty years later, the Department of Labor is expected to announce a new salary requirement, which will probably be at least double the current threshold.
Businesses are opposing the change, calling it a job killer, while supporters argue it will increase job creation and decrease income inequality and wage stagnation. It is likely the supporters of the new salary threshold have it right, and it’s not because they are against corporate profits.
Many workers complain they spend a lot of their time at work doing pointless tasks without any clear value. They spend hours every day in pointless meetings that are poorly planned. They get stuck in endless loops of emails and memos that are supposed to keep them in touch with their coworkers, but really just waste time. Even when employees are assigned urgent tasks that need to be completed immediately, they are often help up by related tasks that don’t get completed for days or even weeks.
The trick to avoiding all this is to work smarter, not harder. With the current overtime laws, and plenty of people looking for work, businesses simply aren’t motivated to help their workers use their time more efficiently. If companies are forced to pay for the extra time employees spend at work, they’ll have a reason to spend that time more wisely.
Less wasted time means happier employees, and happier employees are also more productive. That increased productivity can only benefit the company and help it to grow. That in turn will lead to more job opportunities at all levels of the company.The Chicago overtime lawyers at the Chicago Overtime Law Center are investigating unpaid overtime claims against large retail chains and banks such as Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Petsmart, Officemax, Staples, Smart & Final, Apple, Walgreen’s, CVS, Urban Outfitters, GAP, Abercrombie & Fitch, Limited, Forever 21, Macy’s, Target, JC Penney’s, Lowes, Marshalls, TJ Max, Victoria’s Secret, Nieman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Best Buy, Home Depot, Apple, Best Buy, Sears, K Mart, J.C Penney, Walmart, Costco, PetSmart, REI and other retail chains for misclassifying employees as managers, erasing or altering time sheets or time records, pressuring workers not to report or record overtime, failing to pay for time spent on security checks, and otherwise failing to pay workers for overtime and other wages. If you are the victim this practice call us at one of our offices near Evanston and Skokie at (312) 869-4095 or contact us online.