A basic principle of the American economy is that every employee is entitled to fair pay for their work.
So what happens when you bust your hump working overtime, but your boss won't pay you for it? A violation of the law, that's what. You're entitled to get paid for every hour you work.
Too often, delivery drivers get the brunt of this mistreatment. Here's what you need to know about how the law works in New York.
When do I qualify for overtime?
Drivers are entitled to overtime pay for every hour over 40 hours worked in a regular workweek. Overtime must be paid at 1.5 times the driver's regular rate of pay. For example, if you make $10 per hour usually, you must be paid at least $15 for each hour of overtime you work.
Even if your pay period is two weeks long, your employer can't average out your time to deny you overtime. For example, if you work 50 hours one week and 30 hours the next, you are still entitled to overtime even though you worked a total of 80 hours during the pay period.
You don't get overtime just for working a longer day. What matters is the total number of hours you work during a week. However, some employment contracts may call for more overtime than state law does. State law is a minimum.
Can I choose to work without pay?
Employees cannot waive their right to overtime. You can't agree to work more than 40 hours without getting paid for it. Even if your employer says overtime won't be allowed, you are still entitled to get paid for the hours you work.
Drivers are entitled to monetary payment for overtime. Gifts and other incentives for working overtime are nice, but they do not cancel out the right to get paid.
What if I am an independent contractor?
Many delivery drivers are hired as independent contractors when, in fact, they should be treated as employees. Even if your employment agreement says you are an independent contractor, you may be entitled to overtime if your employer treats you like an employee.
What should I do?
If you suspect that you are not being paid fairly, it is a good idea to talk with an employment lawyer. Most employment attorneys will offer free consultations for employees who are not being treated fairly at work. Talking to a lawyer before you accuse your boss will help you understand the law and will help keep you safe from retaliation.