Yesterday, America got a look at the new overtime rule, which will make millions of people who make less than $47,500 a year eligible for overtime pay. You may be wondering: who, exactly, is responsible for making sure I get paid for all my newfound overtime?
Any time that the government tries to actively meddle in the freedom of the free market to pay most people the absolute lowest wage and pool the absolute highest amount of wealth in the absolute fewest hands, there will be objections from the right wing that such government actions will have devastating unintended economic effects. (The Wall Street Journal is a reliable repository of such objections.) In the case of expanded overtime pay, though, the truth is that businesses have a limited number of options for shirking it: they can raise your salary over $47,500 (which would be fine), they can shift low-salaried workers to hourly pay (which still leaves them eligible for overtime), they can leave your pay the same but have you stop working long hours (fine), or they can reduce salaries in order to absorb the increase in overtime pay (which would suck, but leaves you in about the same place you are now). In an economy that is as strong as ours is now, the base fact is that businesses need labor to meet demand, and they will have to pay for that labor, and the ability to go around imposing widespread salary cuts in response to this rule is limited by the fact that unemployment is relatively low, meaning people can get other jobs.
So, how do you collect on your new overtime pay? Many people are reasonably anxious about this question. The good news: your employer is required by law to track your hours and pay you accurately. It’s the law! And that hasn’t changed. We got more clarity on this point from Department of Labor spokesman Jason Surbey. Bolding ours:
The current law already requires that an employer keep an accurate record of the total number of hours worked for each day in a pay period to ensure that an employee is fully compensated for all hours worked. There is no particular form or order of records required and employers may choose how to document or record hours worked for overtime-eligible employees. The Department’s long-standing recordkeeping rules can be found at 29 C.F.R. part 516. The final rule has not changed these requirements.
Employers have options for accounting for workers’ hours - some of which are very low cost and low burden. There is no particular form or order of records required and employers may choose how to record hours worked for overtime-eligible employees. For example, where an employee works a fixed schedule that rarely varies, the employer may simply keep a record of the schedule and then indicate the changes to the schedule that the worker actually worked when the worker’s hours vary from the schedule (“exceptions reporting”). See Fact Sheet 21: Recordkeeping Requirements under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
For employees with a flexible schedule, an employer does not need to require an employee to sign in each time she starts and stops work. The employer must keep an accurate record of the number of daily hours worked by the employee, not the specific start and end times. So an employer could allow an employee to just provide the total number of hours she worked each day, including the number of overtime hours, by the end of each pay period.
Again: your employer is legally required to keep an accurate record of your hours worked, and to pay you overtime if you qualify under the new rule, which goes into effect in December. If they don’t, sue them.