What does the law say about being overworked within the 40 hour work week?

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What does the law say about being overworked within the 40 hour work week?

My boss doesn’t allow overtime, so I have to work through my breaks. Even with that, I can’t get it all done. I’ve kept track of the time I spend on each task and found that it doesn’t add up to what I’m allowed to work. I’ve asked for additional staff but was declined. Most of these duties are not in my original job description. They’ve just accumulated over the past 4 years.

Asked on March 22, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

There is no law about being "overworked"--you can be worked as hard as your employer likes and as you'll put up with before seeking other employment. Also employers may change duties and job descriptions at will (unless you have an employment contract), so it does not matter if many of your duties are not in your original job description.

However, overtime is governed by law, not by your employer's preference;  if, under the law, you are eligible for overtime, you must be paid it. The default is that everyone gets overtime unless they meet one of the exemptions from it. If you are an office worker, then to be exempt:

1) You'd have to be paid on a salary, not hourly basis--all hourly office staff get overtime; and

2) Your job would most likely need to also meet the requirements to be considered an exempt "executive" (or managerial) or administrative position. You can find the tests for exemption at the Department of Labor's website.

If you are not exempt, you should be paid overtime any time you work more than 40 hours in a workweek. You might also have a claim for unpaid back overtime.


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