Are At-Home Workers Entitled to Overtime Pay?

Tuesday, February 04 - 2014

More and more companies are allowing employees to work from home.  In fact, according to the latest census report in 2012, Americans working from home increased 41% from 2002.  Thanks to technology, working from home has gotten easier.  You don’t need to be in the office to get online or conduct a meeting.  
Working from home can be a good thing for a company’s bottom line, as well as the employee.  For a company, office expenses are reduced, from saving on paper to eliminating rent.    For an employee, the commute is irrelevant and there is more flexibility and fewer interruptions during the workday.
While some studies show home-based workers are happier with the work/life balance than in-office peers, the home-based worker tends to work harder and longer.  The home office is never closed.  So while it’s important for an at-home worker to learn how to start the day and shut it down, it is equally important to understand when and how you should get paid.
Overtime rules and pay are the same whether you work in a home or at the office.  The determining factor is the job position.  If you are a non-exempt employee, then overtime pay applies.  State and federal laws protect you by requiring your employer to:
                - Pay 1.5 times the regular rate of pay for all hours worked over 40 each workweek; and
                - Keep accurate time records of all employees.
Paying only for “straight” time or “scheduled” time worked or paying based on an estimate of work time is illegal.  Misclassifying an employee, improperly paying an employee, and/or failure to make and maintain accurate time records can have serious consequences for the employer.
If you work as an hourly employee, most likely you are a non-exempt employee and should receive overtime pay for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek.  If you are truly an exempt employee, then overtime pay does not apply to you.  Exempt employees are salaried and include professionals like doctors, lawyers, business executives and administrative workers.
Some examples of workers who may be entitled to overtime pay include:
-Cable technicians, customer service reps, data entry personal, field service engineers, gas station attendants, some IT workers, laborers, loan officers, production line employees, retail employees, secretaries and telephone sales representatives.
So what if you are an hourly employee and work from home?  Make sure your workday starts the minute you start working, not necessarily the scheduled shift time or first client call.  For example, in Price v. NCR Case: 1:12-cv-03413, home-based customer engineers claim that NCR failed to pay them for time spent before and after their scheduled shifts  working from home receiving their work assignments, checking their routes as well as fielding emails and calls, amongst other things. 
In the past few years multiple cases have settled out of court for millions of dollars against various industries failing to properly pay their hourly employees.
So what happens when you suspect that your employer should have paid you for your overtime work? Start by knowing your rights. Reach out to a lawyer who concentrates in wage and hour law. Many will give you free advice and let you know if you have a case or not. If you end up deciding to pursue your case, most attorneys will take it on a contingency fee basis, meaning you only pay if you win. The wage laws usually include “fee-shifting” provisions, which means a successful employee can recover attorneys’ fees from the employer in addition to their unpaid wages and other damages.

For more information on your rights, contact us

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