The future of the new white-collaris clouded by pending lawsuits and possible reversal efforts by President-elect Trump. But with the rules set to take effect Dec. 1, some of your previously will find themselves in unfamiliar territory: having to stop working when the clock strikes 5:00.
In the beginning, be prepared for some employees—used to working until the job gets done—to work extra hours here and there. But it’s your job to make them understand that doing so is a serious infraction—and a cause for discipline. Here’s how to end unauthorized overtime:
1. Remind employees that they must obtain supervisor approval to work overtime. Set a policy on overtime approval and make sure bosses understand it and follow it. Explain the consequences. Document those communications.
2. Develop checks in order to ensure employees aren’t working off the clock. You can insist that all overtime-eligible employees clock in and out.
3. Consider additional tracking measures, such as electronic entry cards, to back up reports of hours worked.
4. Institutefor overtime violators. Hand out discipline equally to those who don’t follow directions. (Note: You can’t refuse to pay them for the unapproved hours.) If a reprimand doesn’t get the message across, try a suspension. If that doesn’t stop unauthorized OT, termination may be in order.
5. Enforce your rules. It’s not enough to merely have a written policy on unauthorized OT in your handbook. Plenty of employers sued for failing to pay overtime try to defend themselves by pointing to a policy requiring prior approval. Judges reject such defenses because federal law requires—not employees—to make sure employees don’t work unauthorized OT.
Sample policy: “Your supervisor must approve overtime in advance. It should be included on the time sheet in your total hours worked. [The organization] retains sole discretion to determine when employees must work overtime. Working unauthorized overtime hours may lead to discipline under our progressive discipline policy, up to and including termination.”
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