Can we rearrange worker’s hours to avoid OT?

April 26, 2011
in Employment Law

Q. We have laborers who work from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. A job needs to be done on a Saturday. We want to ask the employees to take time off later in the week once they have hit 40 hours. Are we able to ask them to do that? — C.G., Arizona

A. Yes, unless you are party to a collective bargaining agreement or other contract that would prohibit you from doing so. You can manage the hours worked by employees to avoid having to pay overtime, even when doing so would result in removing the employees from working during their normal work schedules.  

One key point: Make sure the working hours all fall within the same workweek. Under wage-and-hour laws, employers are able to define when their workweeks begin and end.

If, for example, your workweek ends on Sunday, then providing time off during the subsequent Monday through Friday schedule will not work as a way of avoiding overtime liability. And unless you are a public employer, you are not allowed to provide comp time in future workweeks as an alternative to paying overtime compensation.

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