Your boss comes to you and indicates he has a special project to work on and it will involve working overtime for a couple of days, either longer than your shift, or on a day you would normally have off. You are a team player so you agree to help the company. But when your paycheck comes in, are you a little, (or perhaps even greatly) disappointed to see there’s no overtime calculation over your pay? Situations like this happen all the time in Australia, and you wonder how they get away with it?
Preparation to work – on your dime of the companies?
Another situation, perhaps even more common, is your companies insistence that you show up 15 or 20 minutes early for work, perhaps to warm up the equipment or to receive a briefing concerning the previous shifts activities. Does the company pay you for that extra 20 minutes? Chances are they don’t, saving them nearly one and a half hours of overtime per employee every week.
Deliberately shorting your hours
Another common tactic is requiring you to work an extra two hours or so per shift, and then deliberately giving you a shorter than normal shift for the remainder of the week, essentially forcing you to be on-call for overtime when the company needs it, but allowing them to attempt to get away from paying overtime hours.
Unreasonable overtime requests
Some companies are willing to pay overtime but then they demand their employees be at their beck and call whenever they please. Employees should know that Australian Labor Rules dictate that companies overtime requests do not force their employee to work unreasonable hours.
What does the law say?
According to Working Today, the standard workweek in Australia is 38 hours per week, Monday through Friday, and work hours beyond that time generally are considered premium or overtime pay. Of course, there are exceptions and many companies have written agreements with their employees to cover situations such as working on Saturday, Sunday, or late at night. Other factors include shift differential and meal and break times. Ad if you work in Victoria, be aware that labour laws there are fairly silent about overtime and weekend work.
An epidemic of overtime theft
All in all, the labour laws in Australia sound fairly civilized, but the problem is, companies frequently ignore them. How frequently? An Article in the Guardian reveals that Australians typically work upwards of two months of unpaid overtime per year, amounting to a whopping $106 billion dollars per year of free work.
And the trend is particularly common among younger or mid-career workers, and in particular, is prevalent with working men.
What should a worker do to prevent unreasonable overtime demands?
Well, besides speaking to the company directly, complaining to their union if the worker belongs to one, and reporting complaints to the labour board, the obvious solution is to speak to Law Advice compensation solicitors to rectify this problem. These are solicitors who have an in-depth grasp of the law, and who keep up on the latest judgments throughout Australia against employers who engage in such practices. Look for solicitors who specialize in legal compensation such as the folks at https://www.lawadvice.com.au/
Whatever you do, don’t just sit back and let your employer steal an average of six hours or more of your pay each week, or to bully you into working far excess of what is reasonable and safe. It’s your career and your life. Stand up for your rights.