Your Right to be Paid for “Off the Clock” Work
Are you paid by the hour? Do you have to answer work emails on weekends or after business hours? If so, you may be owed a lot of money for that time.
Your employer must keep accurate records of all the time you work, and they must pay you for all that time. It doesn’t matter if you are doing the work in the office or at home, during regular business hours, or on weekends. It also doesn’t matter if you do the work because you were told to do it or just because it had to get done.
Your employer must pay you for all the time that you spend working on their behalf.
For example, if you have to respond to work emails on weekends or after normal business hours, then you must be paid for that time. Even if answering emails only takes 15 minutes per day, that adds up to 62.5 hours per year. That is more than two and one-half weeks of compensation that your employer owes you!
If you are responding to emails from an owner, manager, or supervisor, then your case is fairly straightforward. Your employer is on notice that you are doing the work outside normal business hours. As long as that work is for the benefit of the company, you must be paid for all of your time.
The amount of time you spend responding to emails is fairly easy to calculate. The emails themselves will prove when each one was sent to you and when you responded. Based on the content of the emails, you can provide a reasonable estimate of the amount of time it took to respond.
That said, it is always better to keep a record of how much time you spend responding to emails. You can use one of the time-keeping apps that are available for your smartphone, or simply jot down the times you start and end working on emails.
What if your employer does not know that you are responding to emails outside normal business hours? For example, what if you are answering emails from customers? or from co-workers who are not supervisors or managers?
The answer depends on your employer’s written policies. Some companies have policies requiring that you get approval from a manager if you are going to do work outside normal business hours. If your company has such a policy, then you need to put them on notice that you are doing the work. Once they are on notice, they either have to tell you to stop doing the after-hours work or pay you for all the work that you are doing on their behalf.
How to Recover Compensation for “Off the Clock” Work
In New York, you can recover damages for unpaid wages going back six years. Assuming you spend 15 minutes per day answering emails after normal working hours, that amounts to 375 hours over six years or more than 9 weeks of compensation. You are also entitled to 9% interest on that amount. And if your employer’s failure to pay for that time was intentional, you can recover two times the amount you are owed.
You may be entitled to thousands of dollars in additional penalties if your employer did not provide the proper notices and maintain the required records of your working hours and compensation.
We can help you. For more than 30 years, we have represented clients in disputes over unpaid wages. We use that experience every day to help our clients get paid the compensation they are owed.
The process begins by consulting with one of our experienced employment attorneys. We will ask you questions about your employment status, review your compensation documents, and help you understand your rights. We will also explain your options. If you have a strong case, we will represent you on a contingency basis. This means that you will not owe us any legal fees unless you win. Best of all, the employer is usually ordered to pay our legal fees if you win.
Call us today at (212) 601-2728 to schedule a free and confidential consultation.