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rhymegirl
12-06-2015, 11:03 PM
Does anyone know if it's LEGAL to force employees who normally work 40 hours a week (8 hours a day) to work 12-hour days for maybe 5 days in a row? (that would be 60 hours)

Or does this have to be voluntary?

Thanks!

beckethm
12-06-2015, 11:13 PM
I assume we're talking about the U.S. here, and non-exempt (hourly) positions, rather than salaried jobs.

I'm not an expert on labor law, but I'm not aware of any law or regulation that says you can't require employees to work overtime. AFAIK, the law only requires that you pay time-and-a-half or double wages when you do. Some industries, like long-haul trucking, have limits on the number of hours a person can work for safety reasons, but that's job-specific.

Of course, in most states, employment is at-will, which means an employee can quit at any time and for any reason. So no one can be "forced" to work more hours than they want to.

Here's a link that might be helpful: http://www.legalmatch.com/law-library/article/forced-overtime.html

Fruitbat
12-06-2015, 11:19 PM
I know that some jobs have times when the employees have to work over forty hours per week. I can't imagine it would be such a widespread, openly done thing if it was illegal. If you refused, I'm pretty sure that would be grounds for being fired. However, they do have to pay overtime if the employee is paid by the hour. That's my understanding, anyway, fwiw.

shadowwalker
12-07-2015, 12:53 AM
Yeah, there's no law I know of preventing a legal adult from being required to work overtime, other than certain industries as mentioned above or if there's a union contract specifying maximum overtime. I once worked for a company where we had mandatory 60 hour weeks (6 10 hour days per week) and getting a Saturday off was like pulling teeth.

King Neptune
12-07-2015, 03:33 AM
One cannot "force" an employee to do anything. Assuming that the worker is not covered by a union contract that sets the workweek at a set number of hours, then the employee can be told to work longer or be out of a job. That's as close to forcing an employee to work as one can get legally, so the longer hours would have to be mutually agreed upon.

shadowwalker
12-07-2015, 05:52 AM
One cannot "force" an employee to do anything. Assuming that the worker is not covered by a union contract that sets the workweek at a set number of hours, then the employee can be told to work longer or be out of a job. That's as close to forcing an employee to work as one can get legally, so the longer hours would have to be mutually agreed upon.

I'm not sure where the "mutually agreed upon" comes in, when it's work the hours or be fired. ;)

King Neptune
12-07-2015, 05:52 PM
I'm not sure where the "mutually agreed upon" comes in, when it's work the hours or be fired. ;)

It's one or the other. If they do not agree, then there will be termination.

Lauram6123
12-07-2015, 06:11 PM
I worked in retail for years in the US. Once you graduate from an hourly wage to a salaried position, hours worked becomes meaningless. Managers at clothing stores are responsible for keeping their doors open, and if employees call in sick or flake out for some reason, it doesn't matter if you pulled two previous 12 hour shifts, you go in and provide coverage. I have never heard of a corporate office telling a manager to go home because they've worked too many hours. Very often, the enticing concept of the 40 hour work week is dangled in front of these managers when they are hired, but I have never seen it actually come true. This is one of the reasons that turnover in retail is so common.

shadowwalker
12-07-2015, 06:57 PM
I worked in retail for years in the US. Once you graduate from an hourly wage to a salaried position, hours worked becomes meaningless. Managers at clothing stores are responsible for keeping their doors open, and if employees call in sick or flake out for some reason, it doesn't matter if you pulled two previous 12 hour shifts, you go in and provide coverage. I have never heard of a corporate office telling a manager to go home because they've worked too many hours. Very often, the enticing concept of the 40 hour work week is dangled in front of these managers when they are hired, but I have never seen it actually come true. This is one of the reasons that turnover in retail is so common.

Oh yeah, salaried employees are a whole different kettle of fish. My son goes on 'vacation' - and still has to deal with emails and even conference calls. Vacation apparently just means he's not in the office. :(

Myrealana
12-07-2015, 07:58 PM
What's your definition of "Force?" If they're using any actual force, then it's probably illegal. You can't lock employees in, or hold a gun to their head.

Otherwise, unless there's a specific contract in place, a union to contend with, or you're talking about someone under the age of 18, there's nothing illegal about it.

There are jobs where 80 hours a week is the norm.

When I managed a toy store at Christmas time, I was there at least 12 hours every day from Black Friday to Christmas Eve. We had to keep our hourly employees under 40, so we didn't have to pay overtime, and the salaried managers covered everything else. I figured I earned about half the minimum hourly wage that Christmas season, without even taking time and half for overtime into account.

New associates at my brother's law firm are expected to have a certain number of "billable hours" in a year. The number works out to about 8 hours a day, five days a week, but not every hour spent at work is billable, so they end up working easily 12 hours a day, plus some weekends. Of course, they make good money for that time.

In my current position, I've been the only analyst in a normally 3 person department since July. For the first two months, I worked well over 60 hours per week, keeping up with everything. Since then, I've decided to stop caring, and I've gone back to about 40 hours most weeks.

It's just a fact of life, sometimes. You can work the hours, or you can live with the consequences of not, up to and including becoming unemployed.

Cath
12-07-2015, 08:55 PM
It's going to be difficult to get a legal opinion on this question on this forum. Any lawyer worth their salt isn't going to give you an answer without qualifying the heck out of it by saying their answer isn't legally binding. If you want or need a legally binding opinion, you might want to find an employment lawyer who offers free advice or sessions (although be aware - they're usually touting for business when they do that!).

shadowwalker
12-08-2015, 08:57 AM
Or you can check here:

http://www.dol.gov/dol/topic/wages/overtimepay.htm

Rabe
12-12-2015, 07:48 PM
No, it is not illegal to do mandatory overtime as long as the worker is adequately compensated and other labor laws are followed (such as Nevada has a minimum 8 hour gap between shifts but even that can be got around). I had a state job where they thought nothing of 'encouraging' employees to work triple shifts or would schedule employees to be off for just the minimum eight hours in between double shifts.

The really sad part, though, is when it becomes a 40 hour work period instead of a minimum work day - such as where I work now. We have a 40 hr work period, no work 'days'. Which means, like today, I can be scheduled for 14 hours and none of it is overtime until I've accumulated a total 40 hours over the work period. I was also part of a team, prior, lobbying to create an 84 hour work period where those 4 hours would be paid at regular rates rather than overtime rates.

So yes, an employer can say "mandatory overtime" and the employee's only recourse is to resign or be terminated for not showing up.

Rabe...

RevanWright
01-02-2016, 12:31 AM
Sorry I'm bumping this late, but I wanted to add another perspective.

Not going to reiterate what everyone else has said, but yes. It also depends on the industry, the state, whether it's a contracted job, etc. Every company has its own rules and they have to abide by state and federal law.

At my job, which is technically in the transportation infrastructure, we can be forced to work 16 hours a day, five days a week if it's a bad week. We're union, but our company is also contracted to American Airlines, and it's down in the contract that they can hold us past 8 hours if they need us. It's based on seniority, with the lower guys getting held first. They can only hold us twice a week unless they're holding the whole shift, in which case they can hold us for up to eight extra hours a day, every day. This is at management's discretion.

ZachJPayne
01-02-2016, 12:46 AM
It looks like I'm also finding this late, to which I apologize, but this is very relevant to my life.

I am the grave staff at a residential home for people with special needs. I usually work an 8 hour shift. However, there are times (Thanksgiving weekend, Christmas weekend, New Year's Weekend, 4th of July, etc.) where people think that it's okay to not come in to work, even if they're on the schedule.

If I leave without another staff present, however, I can be charged with Felony Abandonment / Endangerment / something along those lines. So I've been working a lot of 16 hour shifts. It's nice for the pocket-book (1.5x $8.75/hr actually starts to approach a living wage) but I'm also quite resentful of it, because I'm essentially being trapped into it.