Overtime While Working From Home Lawyers

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Most Common Employment Law Issues:

If I Work From Home, am I Still Eligible for Overtime Pay?

Whether or not you work from home (or telecommute) has no effect on the overtime requirements of your employer. If you're job is a "non-exempt" job that normally requires overtime pay (i.e. you are not a salaried employee and you are paid by the hour), then you must be paid overtime regardless of where you work. Examples of such jobs include secretaries, data entry personnel, customer service representatives, and so forth. Federal law mandates that all hours worked by hourly employees be reported and documented, regardless of where you work (state law may also have separate requirements).

How Does My Employer Know I am Working Overtime When I'm at Home?

Overtime compensation and the process you use to report your hours worked should be addressed in the policy statements of your company. Any employer must make sure that all hours worked are well documented, in addition to a telecommuting policy written in the company handbook or your contract. Employees working at home generally must apply for permission for overtime work from their superiors before working past their regular hours, but your employer must use the same method for approving overtime that he would use for non-telecommuting employees (i.e. he cannot refuse you overtime simply because you work at home). 

It should be noted, however, that some states do not allow employees to work overtime from home, so you should check with a lawyer familiar with state law to determine whether this applies to you and your employer. 

What About Premium Pay (For Working on Holidays, etc...)

The normal rules for night differential, Sunday pay, holiday pay, and other forms of premium pay continue to apply when an employee is telecommuting, regardless of the work location. An employee?s official work schedule, as approved by the supervisor, determines the entitlement to premium pay. But again, there should be no discrimination (either against or in favor of) any employee who works from home. That means that their schedule and amount of overtime/premium pay granted should be roughly the same as other employees with the same job.

What If I Work From Home, But Have to Occasional Commute to the Office?

Hourly employees who work primarily from the home MUST be paid for the time it takes them to commute to the company's offices. That is to say, the time spent commuting must be considered part of your hours worked (this has no relation to the actual distance traveled or expenses incurred). As a general rule, if an employee works from his home more than 50% of the time, then this rule applies, but the terms of employment listed in the companies telecommuting policies should spell out the exact details.

Should I Seek Legal Help?

The foremost consideration is whether or not your employer is acting under state law or not.  He may very well be prohibited from granting you overtime by state law (though these laws are somewhat rare). Also, if you worked overtime without authorization, your employer is within his rights to refuse to grant it, or even terminate your work-at-home privileges.  

However, if your employer is refusing to grant you overtime for the sole reason that you work from home, this may very well be employment discrimination and you should contact an employment law attorney in your state to find out what remedies you have. 

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Last Modified: 12-18-2013 03:38 PM PST

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