Can a company violate its own handbook?

The company I work for in Iowa is attempting to force regularly-scheduled overtime. We would get compensated at 1.5 x base pay as an hourly worker but what they are asking is a bit excessive. On a rotating schedule, every 3 weeks we would need to work 3 nights, possibly until midnight, making those three days 16 hour shifts. We have a standard flex days that we can work 8 hours beginning at 7 am until 6 pm. Our employee handbook says that occasional overtime may be

required. According to state code, irregular or occasional overtime work means overtime work which is not part of the regularly scheduled administrative workweek. If it is regularly scheduled, does that violate the definition of occasional overtime? If so, what actions can we take since they would be violating their own handbook. I’m afraid to ask our HR this question because often get reorganized out of a job as a punishment for raising concerns.

Asked on March 15, 2019 under Employment Labor Law, Iowa

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

A handbook is not a contract; unlike an employment contract (which to be binding must be for a defined or set period of time, such as a one-year, two-year, etc. contract), the rules in a handbook are subject to change at will by the employer. Therefore, if the employer wishes you to work more than the handbook currently seems to indicate you should work, they can change their policy at will to require it.


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