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Unauthorized OT? Pay up … and then discipline

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in Human Resources,Overtime Labor Laws

Employers must pay hourly employees for all overtime worked, whether it was authorized or not. So what’s the best way to discourage employees from working unauthorized OT?

Clarify up front that employees may not work overtime. Require them to provide accurate time re-ports. Then, discipline anyone ignores those common sense rules. Just make sure that you pay them for any unauthorized time they do work.

Recent case: Deborah worked from home as an hourly billing analyst for United Healthcare. Her routine hours were 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The company’s policy said it paid for all hours worked, but stipulated, “you MUST accurately record all the time that you work. Record all time worked, including overtime hours, as actual hours worked.”

The policy went on to state, “Before working overtime, you must get approval from your manager. Failure to obtain pre-approval for overtime will not void your entitlement to be paid for the time you worked, but it may subject you to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment.”

Even so, when a supervisor pulled old time records, it was discovered that Deborah had worked past 4:30 almost every workday for three years. The company paid her almost $10,000 for the time. Then it fired her for breaking the overtime rule.

United Healthcare successfully contested Deborah’s application for unemployment benefits. She appealed, but was turned down because she had committed misconduct by ignoring the overtime rule. (Weckert v. United Healthcare, No. A14-1247, Court of Appeals of Minnesota, 2015)

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