Legally can a company force salaried employees being forced to work 7 am-7 pm, M-F and 8 hours every weekend?

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Legally can a company force salaried employees being forced to work 7 am-7 pm, M-F and 8 hours every weekend?

I have a co-worker on a project and the entire project is being forced to work 7 am – 7 pm M-F and a minimum of 8 hours every weekend, this has been going on for the last 2 months and is expected to continue for another 2 months. The employees are being told to not log their true hours and simply log 8 hours a day to the project (yes they are still salaried but their time gets charged to a specific project). Is there anything that protects them from working excessive hours? It seems to me that this is extremely unfair.

Asked on October 26, 2010 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

There is no upper limit on how many hours a company can require an "exempt" employee to work, outside of a very few industries (e.g. airline pilots or truck drivers) where the hours are limited due to safety concerns. Unfortunately, many companies are taking advantage of the bad economy to work people harder than ever. 

However, just because you are salaried doesn't mean that you are necessarily "exempt" from certain labor laws. Being paid on a salary basis is part of the test for most forms of exemption, but it's not the only element; it is possible to be salaried and to get overtime.

If you are "nonexempt", you must be paid overtime for hours worked past 40 in a week.  If, on the other hand, you are an exempt employee unless you have an employment contract that states otherwise, your employer may make you work unlimited hours without overtime.

Note:  At this point you should go to the your state's or the Department of Labor's website and check to see whether or not you are an "exempt" or "non-exempt" employee.


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