I'm being screwed over for overtime. How do I stop this from happening in future?
November 28, 2007 9:25 AM   Subscribe

When/how should I argue about the overtime I've worked?

My department (IT) in a large company has a policy about overtime hours that appears to be illegal in our area (British Columbia)...that is namely that overtime is expected of salary employees (we all are, right down to basic helpdesk) and that there is an unofficial, unwritten policy that lieu time is taken at half of overtime (ie. you work 10 extra hours and get 5 hours of lieu time, and no one gets overtime pay). We've bitched and argued and managed to get 1-to-1 lieu time, in most cases.

Recently I work a crapload of overtime...60 extra hours in 10 days (of the 12 straight days I worked). According to what I've read in the BC Labour Code, not only would they have to count that as 90 hours (1.5*60), it would be up to me to request lieu time (and working 12 days straight is against the rules). The final result was that they agreed to give my (and others in the same boat) 4 days (32 hours) of lieu time, and no overtime pay.

Now, all that being said, I like my job. I generally like the company and the people I work with, as well as my boss. My area is a hard one to find IT work in and I've got a family to support as the sole breadwinner. I don't want to create undue animosity. I just want to not be completely screwed over.

Do I bitch? Do I just roll over and accept it? Since my group has accepted this 4 days, how do I handle the next time (there will be plenty of next times)?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (5 answers total)
I also don't know the law, but I've often thought about those same issues. I too (as are a lot of people I know) am salaried and in BC. Overtime seems to be handled rather casually - where I am, the general guideline (there is no real rule) is to take the time off when you can, as long as it doesn't affect your deadlines. We almost never get it back 1-1, but it depends. For example, I worked about 14 hours the other weekend, and took one day (8 hours) off in lieu. In all my BC salaried jobs, I've never once had overtime paid out, nor gotten this mythical "time and a half" that supposedly exists. I've always been under the assumption that unless you're in a union, it just doesn't happen if you're salaried. Even my brother, who works for the giant game development company around here, with all it's employees, manuals and red tape, has a rather casually handled overtime policy. I don't know what their "rules" are, i just know sometimes he works 80 hours weeks, sometimes 20, but gets paid a salary for 40 hours a week. Sorry I can't be of more help, but i'm watching this question with interest as well.
posted by cgg at 9:59 AM on November 28, 2007

Can you approach your boss and request that he approve setting up a weekly or monthly overtime log that you prepare, he signs, and you submit to payroll? Sometimes these gray areas are made more distinct if you use gentle, professional initiative. Start keeping good records, ask nicely for what you are legally due as recompense, and ultimately they will have to choose between adhering to your contract and labor law and paying you respect for your command of your own worth, or facing a lawsuit.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:10 AM on November 28, 2007

If you work in IT, it's fairly likely that most of the overtime rules don't actually apply to you. Keep pushing, especially as a group, for what you think you're due, but don't make legal threats until you're sure you're actually entitled to what you think you are.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:23 AM on November 28, 2007

That provision of the Employment Standards Act that jacquilynne linked is very important. Thank to lobbying from places like EA, crunch time salt mine-esque hours are basically free from real oversight or restriction.

I'd contact someone at the labour board and see if there's something that can be done. But due to the high tech provisions of the ESA, you're probably going to have more luck negotiating something with the higher-ups. If you do, make sure to get it in writing in case they try to backpedal and chain you to your desk.
posted by Nelsormensch at 10:43 AM on November 28, 2007

I was about to post what jacquilynne did. As an IT worker, you don't have the same rights as most other workers to be compensated for overtime.

The key is to ensure that your base compensation reflects this. If you're worth $60K/year, but you're working 10 hours of overtime every week on average, then negotiate a salary based on $75K/year or more.

And if you don't want to bargain individually, you do have the right to bargain collectively. That is: unionize.

The IT unemployment rate in BC is something like 2%, so I have to wonder what you mean by "my area is a hard one to find IT work in". If your employer won't make it worth your while, someone else will, especially if you're willing to move to the GVRD.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 11:13 AM on November 28, 2007

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