Mandatory overtime is hard on families, but it's also legal, so talk to the boss

Can They Do That?

Your Money

July 04, 2004|By Carrie Mason-Draffen

Is it legal to schedule mandatory overtime week after week? I'm talking 11 to 13 hours a week. My company is doing this, and it's very hard on people. This doesn't give anyone a home life.

Companies can require workers over the age of 18 in most professions or industries to work any number of overtime hours. And if the employees who are non-exempt and qualify for overtime work more than 40 hours in a week, federal laws require their employers to pay them at least time-and-a-half for those extra hours.

But pay doesn't seem to be the issue here. It's quality of life. And just because your company is acting legally in working you into the role of absentee spouse, partner or parent doesn't mean you have to remain silent.

Talk with a supervisor and see whether you can work something out.

Maybe you can work overtime every other week. Or maybe you and other colleagues with similar sentiments can convince the company that you need more bodies on board.

Excessive overtime is usually a sign the company needs to hire more people. Many companies have opted to squeeze more out of their current work force rather than hire in this slow job market. But employees do reach a breaking point, and when they do, they have to plead their case for the sake of their own sanity.

Carrie Mason-Draffen is a columnist for Newsday, a Tribune Publishing newspaper. E-mail her at

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