Can an employer make you work more hours than written in the work contract?

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Can an employer make you work more hours than written in the work contract?

I am a General Manager for a store in North Dakota. When I took the job it was
with the understanding that I work 48 hours a week. I have an annual salary that
is divided by 26 for an equal paycheck every two weeks.

However, during the holiday season, I am given a mandatory schedule to follow
that has me working 60 or more hours a week without any additional pay. Last
holiday season, I followed this schedule because I was already short on staff and
it needed to be done for the store. However, this year, I have more than enough
staff. Do I have to follow this mandatory schedule that has an additional 12 plus
hours, or am I legally only required to work the 48 hours a week that I work the
rest of the year?

Asked on November 30, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, North Dakota

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

IF you have a written contract for a definite period of time (e.g. a one-year, two-year, etc. period) which has not yet expired and which defines how many hours you work, that is enforceable; during the duration of that contract, you cannot be made to work more hours than you agreed to in it.
But only such an unexpired written contract for a defined period restricts your employer's right to control the terms, including the hours worked, of your job. If you don't have such a contract, then it does not matter what your understanding is--a noncontractual understanding is unenforceable. And a written schedule given you by your employer does not prevent the employer from adding to or changing that schedule, unless, again, the schedule is incorporated into a written employment contract. Without an enforceable written contract limiting or setting your hours, your hours are whatever the employer says they are.


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