`Half time' may mean time and a half, so check pay stub

Can They Do That?

Your Money

August 01, 2004|By Carrie Mason-Draffen

I work for a large bank that pays us "half time" when we work more than 40 hours in a week. But I thought the law required them to pay time and a half.

Although it feels as if you've been cheated, the difference may simply be semantic. Let's say you make $9 an hour and are entitled to overtime pay when you work more than 40 hours in a week.

Federal law says the overtime rate must at least be 1 1/2 times your regular rate, or $13.50 in this case. In other words, it's your regular rate, which is $9, plus the half-time premium, or $4.50. That might be the explanation for the term "half time." So grab a calculator and your last paycheck to make sure your employer is doing it right.

I am a one-man company, but I plan to hire employees soon. How do I learn the basics of such things as workers' rights to breaks for meals and other things: overtime, hiring, firing and recommendations?

Thanks to the Internet, you can find a lot of what you need online. Most, if not all, states have Web sites with labor law information.

The U.S. Department of Labor site (www.dol.gov) also is a good place to visit. It's full of information and has a search function. You will find information on the federal minimum wage and overtime pay, among many other things.

As for books, I have a few favorites. They include The Employee Rights Handbook: The Essential Guide for People on the Job (Warner Books, $14.95), by Steven Mitchell Sack, a Manhattan attorney; The Employer's Legal Handbook (Nolo, $39.99), by Fred Steingold; and The American Bar Association Guide to Workplace Law (Random House, $14).

As for more face-to-face contact, the Department of Labor does outreach and is happy to meet with employers to talk about federal labor laws. Call your local Labor Department office. You also should consider consulting an employment lawyer on really sticky issues.

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

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.