Ensuring Employers Are Properly Paying You

Student loans. House payments. Food. Utilities. Bills that the grocery story, your creditor, and land lord expect to be paid. So what do we do?

We drag ourselves out of bed a few days a week, drive or bike to work, and then perform whatever duty we have been assigned. A few lucky souls have managed to snag jobs they actually enjoy. The rest of us have filled positions that we tolerate. We need the money. Need it enough to sell hours upon hours of our time.

And when our bosses ask us to work longer hours? We cry inside, strap ourselves in, and then spend an extra hour to fifteen hours a week in employment hell. Before you embark on the perilous journey of investing more time into your employer, here are a few aspects of wage law that you should know about.

Salary Versus Hourly

More hours worked doesn’t always mean a higher paycheck. The amount on your paycheck is determined by how your job is classified. The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA) determined the rights of employees based on whether their employer retained them as an hourly or salary-based employee.

Hourly employees are paid based on the quality or quantity of their work. The amount on their paychecks will fluctuate based on hours worked. Receiving an hourly wage will qualify you for being paid for every hour worked. This covers both on-site and off-site hours worked. Every time you take a work phone call, send an email, or do an assignment off-site it should be compensated.

Receiving an hourly wage might ensure you get paid for every hour worked, but it will not necessarily guarantee overtime pay (OT). Qualifications for overtime pay can vary from state to state, and from industry to industry, but employees typically qualify when they reach forty hours in one work week. And the base overtime pay is 1 and 1/2 of their normal wage.

These types of employees are not guaranteed overtime:

  • Independent contractors.
  • Farmworkers on small farms.
  • Babysitters (employed casually).
  • Some seasonal recreational employees.
  • Some computer professionals employed at least $27.63 an hour.

Salary employees are paid a pre-determined base sum. Every paycheck delivers a fractions of that sum that does not fluctuate based on whether more or less hours are work during that pay period.

What does this mean? At my current hourly based wage, I can work overtime, when it’s offered, and make bank. The manager, on the other hand, who is chosen to monitor my work as a salary-based employee, will not be paid any extra money for the longer work week.

I’m Salary, Right?

Companies are not infallible. Some companies have misclassified their employees as a salary-based when they should be considered hourly-based under the FLSA. This misclassification means that the employee has the right to not only receive the money currently being earned, but receive back-pay for the money not received while their employee considered them hourly.

Salary employees are determined by:

  • Their salary. (Hourly if paid less than $23,600 a year).
  • How they are paid. (Hourly if no “minimum base” pay is guaranteed).
  • What kind of work they do. (Hourly is dependent on not fulfilling any of the typical salary duties listed).

The correct diagnosis of hourly versus salary should be determined by either consulting a law professional or checking out the Fair Labor Standards Act advisor.

The Fair Labor Standards Act was developed to ensure that employees receive fair compensation for their hours worked. Any hourly or salary employee who believe they are not being compensated correctly according to state or federal law, might want to spend some time to conducting further research or consulting a law professional who does not charge individuals employees an attorney fee. With a little time, you may discover a pile of cash you didn’t know belonged to you.

Samantha Stauf

Samantha Stauf graduated from the University of Idaho with a degree in technical writing. In the last year and a half, she has been working in the marketing department at a local start-up

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