Does all work have to be compensated in some fashion?

UPDATED: Jun 16, 2011

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Does all work have to be compensated in some fashion?

I am a child and adolescent mental health therapist working at a county agency. I was hired on a payment for productivity model, meaning that I only get paid for the time when I am directly meeting with clients. I am unpaid for paperwork, meetings, or phone calls. I just had my first performance review, and I was given a “needs improvement” on paperwork and phone calls. Is it legal for my employer to mandate responsibilities and standards for which I am not paid?

Asked on June 16, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Ohio


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Two different issues:

First, people can hired on "productivity" models--which, after all, is how almost all lawyers are compensated, for example; we're only paid for billable client time, not for all the necessary administration--or what in a manufacturing context is a "piecework" basis. If you were a nonexempt employee--i.e. someone eligible for overtime--you'd have be paid for overtime when you work it, though as a mental health professional working with clients, you would be an exempt learned professional (nonovertime), this does not apply. So the way you are paid is legal.

Second, employers have near total carte blanche in regards to the rules or terms of employment, including the responsibilities they give employees and how they rate them. So you can be assigned non-renumerative work--that's implicit in the productivity or piecework models, after all; not every moment is compensible--and you can be judge on who you do that nonrenumerative work as well.

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