It’s time to change overtime laws. Businesses are too often abusing employees and making them work absurd hours for too little compensation.
Consider this example of a waitress. She works sixty hours a week because her boss has cut the staff to save money. This works out fine for her boss, though, because time and a half for a waitress is still just a little over three dollars an hour, all of which is eaten up in taxes. For the waitress, hour 59 is the same as hour 1: all her money comes from tips.
For those in other businesses, bosses often have to be sneakier. It is not at all uncommon across the country for bosses to demand meetings be attended but then refuse to allow employees be on the clock. In many professions, it is common for bosses to demand employees do extra work before clocking in or after clocking out. An example of this would be paperwork. Many bosses will ask employees to fill it out, but they will first clock the employee out to save on overtime.
No matter whether the wage is too low or the boss is manipulating the numbers (and it’s worth pointing out here that this latter strategy is an illegal business practice), something needs to change. There’s no reason workers should go on being compensated poorly when many businesses could, in fact, afford to pay their employees properly.
The laws have to change. Firstly, waitresses and other employees who are paid mostly in tips should have a different system for overtime. Tipped employees should get an extra one half of their average tipped hour whenever they cross forty hours. That would force employers to pay a reasonable amount and would keep them from making horrendous schedules regularly.
On the second issue, employees should be given more obvious and direct means to complain about employer practices that illegally withhold earned income. Many of these issues continue solely because the employees don’t know who to contact to complain. Other times, it’s because employees don’t even know their rights in the situation. More information (perhaps through training, perhaps through pages that are required to be posted in the business) should be offered to these employees, so they know they are being cheated and are able to immediately contact someone to look into the issue.
The idea of overtime was designed to make sure any amount of work over a reasonable full-time job would be compensated reasonably. It was also meant to be a penalty for employers who would rather rely on too few employees and save money. By making employers pay more, they were forced to instead consider simply hiring enough help and allowing their employees enough rest.
For too long, these important points have been lost on the American public. But, with low unemployment and a relatively strong economy, there’s no reason more can’t be done to ease the burden left on the shoulders of the American worker.