Salaried vs. hourly? I don't want to work 24-7
July 18, 2007 11:33 AM   Subscribe

Hourly vs salaried. I don't want to work 24-7

I'm currently a salaried employee. Contract at hire stated: 830 to 530.

In reality, we will have weeks with the schedule cited above, but other weeks with an unpredictable schedule (leaving at 8, 1100, or later at night). We will be asked to work weekends, with the policy that for every entire day of work on the weekend = 1/2 day off as comp time. The weekday evening hours are lost.

I can't take the unpredictable schedule or the lack of a chance to keep a normal work-life balance (e.g., I can't take a class; plan to meet with friends, etc).

I've had other 'salaried' jobs, but with a very predictable schedule - any overtime was compensated (day for day).

I'd like to look for a new job but guarantee that this does not happen again. If a job is posted as 'salaried', can I ask to be paid hourly and negotiate pay? Advantages or disadvantages? Should I create my own supplementary contract at hire?

Looking for new jobs now - I don't want to fall into another trap. Suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I think its really all comes down to the nature of the work. Unpredictible work often means unpredictable schedules. You might use that criteria when evaluating new job offers.

That doesn't also doesn't mean you shouldn't discuss your concerns or try to negotiate some other compensation with future employers.

Lastly, lots of employers treat salaried/hourly employees as two different "tracks" of employment with a "graduation" from "hourlyness" to "salriedness". At medium to large companies you might be royally throwing a wrench into their HR/benefits/compensation systems if you try to get them to treat you hourly for a salaried job.
posted by mmascolino at 11:53 AM on July 18, 2007

I can not imagine accepting half-time for overtime worked. You should be getting time and a half! Maybe I'm lazy but that sounds like a terrible deal and unless your heart is really in your work I'd say can it and find a place that understands work is not your entire life.
posted by loiseau at 12:15 PM on July 18, 2007

What you are describing is the difference between Exempt and Non-Exempt compensation. Yours is a hard question to answer without knowing specifically what your job is, but companies generally do whatever they can to keep people Exempt (from overtime). Some jobs (generally, those that are "labor" as opposed to "creative") are required to be Non-Exempt; though again, many companies will try to squeeze as many jobs into the Exempt bucket as possible.

What I'm getting at is that this kind of situation tends to be dictated by your job description, not on a per-person basis. Higher-level jobs with more responsibility are usually Exempt. Unless you are very, very good at what you do, I suspect that attempting to re-negotiate the entire structure of your compensation will do you more harm than good as a candidate.

I can not imagine accepting half-time for overtime worked. You should be getting time and a half!

Comp time != overtime.

AFAIK, comp time is generally reserved for Exempt employees, since they don't get paid overtime.
posted by mkultra at 12:59 PM on July 18, 2007

My advice: figure out if the things that are keeping you at work are actually your job. If they are your job, figure out how to make the workplace hire a new person. These taks (in my opinion, maybe I'm full of crap) should be someone else's job, because at this point your workplace is getting the work of two people out of you. Not only for the savings of wages, but also all the benefits and taxes that would (should?) incurred. If you're willing to keep doing all this extra work (though it doesn't sound like you are, and I think you're in the right) negotiate a hefty raise for yourself.

If you are the only person staying these extra hours, stop doing that as soon as physically possible.

I've been in the same position: salaried with a stated weekly schedule that was very reasonable on paper (35 hours a week!) but in reality hell (60 hours a week!) because my job description included "and other tasks as deemed necessary for the...." And I wasn't the only person staying late. The doctor was there seeing patients added to the schedule last minute, the office manager was still there because she had work that didn't get done while she was gossiping with the morning patients and drug reps and the nurse was there triaging the evening patients. What was I doing? I was cleaning the bathroom and helping the manager get caught up on her work from the morning. And she was a bitch about it. The environment was toxic in other emotional ways too.

I'm still bitter.
posted by bilabial at 12:59 PM on July 18, 2007

More often than not, long workweeks are the result of understaffing (which can often be traced directly back to the unwillingness of management to take a hit on the bottom line) and poor time management by some or all levels of staff (but usually management).

It is not a given that you, as an exempt employee, will be forced to give up your personal life. Yes, you should find another job, but no, you don't need to negotiate an hourly pay rate. You just need to find an employer with adequate resources (financial, human and otherwise) and competent management. They're out there.
posted by solid-one-love at 1:08 PM on July 18, 2007

I don't know where you are located, but in the US the guidelines for exempt (salaried) employees are *typically* executive, supervisory, professional or outside sales positions. They are usually paid a higher wage than salaried employees, with the expectation that they'll put in as many hours necessary to get the job done. However, some companies put other types of employees (let's call them "worker bees") on salary or non-exempt status just because they can have them work excessive hours without paying them overtime. Both federal and state labor boards take a dim view of this, mainly because if worker bees aren't being paid time and a half for anything over 40 hours, these are payroll taxes the government is missing out on. If you call your state labor board with a complaint such as yours, they will investigate to find out whether an employer is designating inappropriate employees as "exempt." And the employer may become liable for a truckload of back taxes.
posted by Oriole Adams at 1:12 PM on July 18, 2007

Ack! Should read "salary or exempt status."
posted by Oriole Adams at 1:13 PM on July 18, 2007

It's frustrating that people still do not include WHERE THEY ARE in questions like this.

Assuming you are in the US, check out the department of labor's website here. It has lots of information about who is exempt and who is not. As pointed out above, the relevant inquiry begins with the type of work you do, and whether that qualifies you as exempt or not. If you are exempt, the company you work for does not have to pay you overtime (as you are "exempt" from that portion of the fair labor standards act). Whether you are exempt or not also has to do with how much you are paid and how you receive that pay.

It also depends on who you are working for -- if you are public sector, some of these rules don't apply.

And, you reference a contract, which throws a whole different wrench into things -- even if you are exempt, if you have a contract that states how many hours you are supposed to be working for a particular amount, things may be different. It seems odd that, if you're in the US, you'd have a contract that states the number of hours you are expected to work if you are exempt.
posted by dpx.mfx at 1:50 PM on July 18, 2007

I think this depends on the kind of work you do. My spouse, for example, assures me that if you are in a managerial position and your decisions could result in losses/gains of thousands of dollars for the company, you need to be available pretty much round the clock and your typical workday when there isn't a crisis (which rarely happens) is closer to 7-6 than to 8-5.

In addition, though, you probably have excellent benefits. Companies take into account the costs of benefits when figuring out salaries.

All this is intended to serve as a preface to saying that if you negotiate to work a truly "hourly" position, you may be missing out on more than you think. I wouldn't negotiate away your health insurance, dental plan, and other benefits you get as a salaried employee unless you are really sure you can get by without them.

If you don't work in a supervisory position, you may be able to get away with a job that really does have 8:30-5:30 hours. Your pay raises and compensation, though, will stay on par with that schedule. (Read: If you are known as the guy who disappears as soon as that clock hits half after, when the time comes for raises, it's going to go to the guy who is willing to work the occasional evening or two to get the job done.)

So, how ambitious are you? If you are content to work at an okay job just to pay the bills, then stay out of management, economize at home, and enjoy your social life. That's the kind of job that will really only work you 8:30-5:30.

(By the way, I am not at all ambitious myself. There's nothing wrong with that. But you need to have realistic expectations.)
posted by misha at 2:10 PM on July 18, 2007

Sorry if this sounds obvious, but have you ever tried just saying no?

'We need you to work this weekend.'
'Sorry, I'm not available.'
'But it's an emergency!'
'I'm afraid I have too much on my plate this weekend, but I can stay late on Thursday.'
'Thursday's no good. We need you on Saturday.'
'I'm sorry, but I can't do it.'
'Why not?'
'I'm going to be too busy.'

Don't elaborate. Don't tell them your plans (which may be sitting in a recliner with the remote control all weekend). Just keep repeating simple statements until they get the message.

Also, why not try working out what your real hourly wage is? This might be just the motivation you need for your job search.
posted by happyturtle at 4:48 AM on July 19, 2007

Hmm, if you want your job or a job that makes more money than average, I am afraid that is just how it works.

I travel a lot for my job, I feel like I am on the clock 24/7, however, I get paid just for my 40 hours. I have to leave on Sunday night alot for travel, or have to stay till Sat. morning, there is no overtime for salaried jobs, its just how it is. Comp time however is at the discretion of the employer.
posted by stormygrey at 5:06 AM on July 19, 2007

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