Know Your Rights re: Wages, Hours and Overtime Pay
Vermont wages, hours and overtime pay attorney: The answer to just about every question related to your pay and hours depends on two key factors: whether you are an employee or an independent contractor; and, if you are an employee, whether you are an exempt or nonexempt employee. As explained by our Vermont wages, hours and overtime pay attorney, these issues are regulated by the complex rules of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
Independent Contractor or Employee?
Employees are entitled to certain protections that do not accrue to non-employees (independent contractors). One of the primary benefits is that some employees are entitled to overtime pay, while independent contractors are not. The process of determining whether you are an employee or an independent contractor is complex and fact-specific. On the one hand, if you own your own business, set your own hours, or offer services to others, then you are properly characterized as an independent contractor. On the other hand, signing an agreement or acknowledging that you are a contract laborer will not necessarily deprive you of the rights of an employee, if other aspects of your work demonstrate that you are, in fact, an employee. If you are uncertain as to your status, talk with an experienced Vermont wages, hours and overtime pay attorney.
Most employees covered by the FLSA are entitled to a minimum wage and overtime. The minimum wage currently is set by federal statute at $7.25 per hour.
Overtime rules require an employer to pay an eligible employee time-and-one-half of the employee’s regular pay for any hours over forty worked in one week. Overtime protection applies to employees who do not meet an exemption. An employee is exempt if he meets both the “salary” test and the “duties” test. The salary of an exempt employee must be at least $455 per week. If the employee is truly paid on a salary basis, his or her pay is not reduced because fewer hours are worked on a particular day.
An employee meets the duties test if his duties fall into one of several categories. For example, an “executive” is exempt if he or she regularly supervises two or more employees; can hire and fire; and management is his or her primary duty. “Professionals,” such as teachers, lawyers and doctors, are also exempt from the overtime regulations. Many employers assume that all salaried employees are exempt from overtime, but this is not the case. Salaried employees are entitled to overtime if they do not meet both the salary test and one of the duties tests.
The FLSA does not regulate how many hours you work in a day or week. Your employer may require you to stay late to meet the demands of the business, as long as the employer complies with the overtime rules.
Although not required to do so, most employers offer short breaks and a lunch break. If the employer offers breaks, it must comply with the FLSA by paying for breaks that are 20 minutes or less. Thus, if you are required to clock out every time you leave your desk or work station to use the bathroom or get a drink, your employer is in violation of the FLSA. An employer does not have to pay for the longer lunch break; however, during your lunch break, you must be completely relieved of responsibility. If you continue to answer phones or do other work while you eat lunch at your desk, this should be paid time.
Contact a Vermont Wages, Hours and Overtime Pay Attorney
Joe Galanes, an experienced Vermont wages, hours and overtime pay attorney, can help you determine if you have been wrongfully deprived of the wages you deserve. Call our office today, 1-855-357-3309, to schedule a free consultation.