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Cross-departmental work? Remember OT rules

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in Human Resources,Overtime Labor Laws

Large employers usually have several departments, and it’s common for employees to do work in more than one. But some payroll systems may not catch it when cross-departmental work exceeds 40 hours in a week, separately recording hours worked in each department.

The result: Employees miss out on overtime pay.

Don’t expect a federal judge to give you a pass if that happens.

Recent case: Michael and several others worked for the Lackawanna County Sheriff’s Department. Their positions as deputy sheriffs were technically part time. They clocked all their hours into the county pay system at the station. But they also happened to have second assignments in other departments, where they also clocked in and were paid. For example, one of the men worked in Cen­­­tral Book­­ing and also as a deputy sheriff. None of the workers were ever paid overtime even though, between different departments, they worked more than 40 hours per week.

The men sued, alleging wage-and-hour violations. The county argued that it didn’t know the workers were due overtime because its payroll system didn’t have any way to flag that a single employee worked for more than one department during any given week. As a result, the workers were simply paid their straight hourly wages in each department.

The court said the county should have known that it was possible that part-time employees assigned to more than one department might work more than 40 hours per week. The poor software was no excuse. (Sour­ya­­vong, et al., v. Lack­­a­­wanna County, No. 3CV-13-1534, MD PA, 2015)

Final note: Don’t even think about creating two separate companies and assigning one worker to both companies as a way to avoid overtime or other obligations like providing benefits due full-time employees.

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