Labor Law Violation?

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by puma1552, Nov 20, 2016.

  1. puma1552, Nov 20, 2016
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2016

    puma1552 macrumors 601

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2008
    #1
    I work in engineering consulting. I am salaried, but not really due to the fact I have to submit a 40 hour timecard (minimum) every week to document what projects I worked on (billable to client project cases or non-billable overhead cases) for billing/invoicing purposes. As of late there has been increasing pressure to be 100% billable towards client work, meaning that 40 hours of the timecard have to go to billable cases, not things like overhead or company meetings that don't contribute to generating income for the company.

    There have now been several cases over the last couple months where we are required to attend company meetings, and after the fact - and even worse, only when asking HR when going to do timecards at the end of the week - we are told we will not be given hours for the company meeting for the non-billable company meetings project case for our timecard (we have a different case/project number for each project and management has to allocate hours to each case in order for us to claim time for that work). Basically we are required to go to company meetings and then not being given any time to bill it towards, effectively being forced to donate our free time.

    If I was a typical salaried employee this would be no issue since it would just be part of the normal workday and no timecard would be involved, but since we basically get reduced to hourly status by having to have a 40 hour billable timecard no matter what, you literally have to work an extra amount of time equal to the duration of the meeting. While it's not really a big deal to me as I usually work more than 40 and can absorb it, there are quite a few 40 hour clockpunchers in the office who can't absorb that time come Friday afternoon when going to do their timecard.

    Is there some kind of potential labor law violation here? Requiring employees to go to company meetings but then not allowing them to claim that time in a consulting services business where all hours of the workday need to be documented?
     
  2. ardchoille50 macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2014
    #2
    Is this employer the only game in town? Too many people waste time complaining when their resources would be better served solving the problem.
     
  3. lowendlinux Contributor

    lowendlinux

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    #3
    He/She is trying to solve the problem leaving the company doesn't solve anything.
     
  4. ActionableMango macrumors 604

    ActionableMango

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2010
    #4
    It sounds like you are an exempt employee with salary pay, in which case it is perfectly legal to expect you to work more than 40 hours a week without overtime.

    The part that seems iffy to me is if they actually dock your pay if you don't do 40 hours. You're supposed to be a salaried employee. If they have actually done so, you should probably ask a lawyer if this is legal or not.
     
  5. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #5
    Sure it does, he finds an employer that handles work hours more in line with his expectations
     
  6. lowendlinux Contributor

    lowendlinux

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    #6
    That doesn't solve the problem, if there is one.
     
  7. oneMadRssn macrumors 68040

    oneMadRssn

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    Sep 8, 2011
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    #7
    I don't think there is any violation. This is a pretty common arrangement for all sorts of fee-for-service firms. Law firms and accounting firms, infamously, work on this same arrangement. I know some engineering, design, and architecture firms do too. Many attorneys are required to have 1900-2100 billable hours annually. I know for attorneys it takes about 10 hours of being in the office to get 8 hours billed, more or less.

    I obviously don't know your exact situation, but engineering consultants or engineers working for a firm usually make more than engineers working in-house, and typically have better bonus opportunities. That and being the source of revenue generated are pluses to this kind of arrangement.

    On the downside, this sort of arrangement tends to be higher pressure and higher stress, encourages working more hours, and discourages being efficient (e.g., "why would I spend 2 hours writing a script that can do this task in seconds, when I can do this task manually and earn 1 billable hour today, and then 1 billable hour every week from now on until the end of time?")

    The only potential labor law violation that I can think of is if you earn less than $47k/yr, in which case you should be paid overtime.
     
  8. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #8
    Actually it does, the person is no longer being forced to work those type of hours he's questioning.
     
  9. BeefCake 15 macrumors 65816

    BeefCake 15

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    May 15, 2015
    Location:
    near Boston, MA
    #9
    I've worked in a similar role of salary but needing to fill 40 hours per billable activity before, company meetings were not billable but they weren't too many for us to read the riot act. If the non-billable hours required get too high, try to bring billable work to the meetings or something to make a statement.
     
  10. lowendlinux Contributor

    lowendlinux

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    #10
    But it still doesn't solve the problem other will be required to do what he/she is doing. Here's the thing he/she is not saying I'm going to call the regulators and bring the law in they're asking if it's legit. If the poster is a salaried employee it's legit since we're paid the same no matter the hours worked that's why the poster is asking about the legitimacy of the rule.
     
  11. puma1552 thread starter macrumors 601

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    Nov 20, 2008
    #11
    Thanks guys, I figured there was no violation but it was a little murky since I'm salaried yet have to fill out a timecard like an hourly employee. It's unfortunate in that most salaried positions are give and take, but here you can never come up below 40 hours - they absolutely will not allow a time card to ever be submitted without 40 hours minimum on it which I don't personally think is right; it is what it is though. Probably more just bothered by the change in policy and the general direction of various things as of late. Isn't what it used to be; actively working to change my situation as well but wanted to ask about this specific item because it's rubbing a lot of people in the office the wrong way and creating resentment and isn't helping office morale.
     
  12. Tomorrow macrumors 604

    Tomorrow

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    #12
    I'm also an engineer and early in my career I experienced this regularly. The answer in my case was simple - if I was "on the clock" (that is, doing anything the company required of me, including attend meetings), I put it on my timesheet - and if the meeting was not about a particular project, I charged that time to overhead. Some principals were okay with that, others were not - it was as simple as my saying, "No problem. If you don't want me to charge that to overhead, give me a project number to charge it to." Without exception, they told me to charge it to overhead.

    I'm a more senior member of the team these days so I don't really get any backlash for how I fill out my timesheet.
     
  13. A.Goldberg macrumors 68000

    A.Goldberg

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    Jan 31, 2015
    Location:
    Boston
    #13
    If you're a full time salaried employee above the exempt status chances are you're working over 40hrs a week. I read 50% of salaried employees work over 50hrs a week. I know I do.

    Welcome to America. :confused:
     
  14. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #14
    I understand your point, but I was stating, if there was a violation, sometimes just leaving the company is the best option.

    Bottom line, if you don't like the environment, corporate culture, or how demands are being placed on your time, then leave that organization for one that is a better fit - simple as that, problem solved.
     
  15. Huntn macrumors G5

    Huntn

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    May 5, 2008
    Location:
    The Misty Mountains
    #15
    I don't have broad experience with this, just my own working at an airline. Technically aircrew are paid by the hour, yet, the company played all types of games having us do training that might require 5 hours of online study, but then only pay us an hour. No labor law violated that I am aware of. However it sucked.

    I don't agree with the suggestion of "just leave" because it completely overlooks any kind of undesirable practices a company may try to foist on it's employees to save money and you are expected to grin and swallow it... or leave. The employees are a group and depending on the situation issues can be addressed but it's takes a group, not an individual walking the plank. Fortunately in my work environment we had a contract so everything was negotiable. So even though it sucked, we were negotiating for other things and we had a say thanks to being unionized, the only way to fly. :)

    The history of unions is that they did not exist. Employers took more and more advantage of their unorganized employees, until having enough, the employees organized and became effective as a group to counter these negative practices. My impression is that unions are just about extinct so now it's every man/woman for themselves in the companies without unions, until once again they get so sick of being abused, they fight to organize again.

    This sounds very much like a PRSI subject. ;)
     
  16. samiwas macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2006
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    #16
    More and more, I am glad that I am paid by the hour, with a minimum. If I show up at work, I am paid for 8 hours, whether I am there for 8 hours or not. But, I'm almost always there for much longer, and I'm paid accordingly. I would not every want to work somewhere where I'm expected to put in extra hours or even weekends with no compensation. In those cases, I really have to wonder who the entitled ones really are.
     
  17. bunnspecial macrumors 603

    bunnspecial

    Joined:
    May 3, 2014
    Location:
    Kentucky
    #17
    FWIW, there are currently some changes under way to the FLSA that will affect a lot of currently exempt employees.

    Aside from a couple of "tests" regarding job duties/responsibilities(which aren't much different from what they were in the past), the new salary threshold for exempt employees is $47,739(I think it used to be somewhere around $23,000).

    As I live in an area with relatively low COL, this has moved a very large number of employees at my work from exempt to non-exempt.

    The change in laws was supposed to be Dec. 1, although an injunction was put in place last week. My work is still going to complete the transition by Dec. 1 since reclassifying a few thousand employees isn't exactly an overnight task.

    In any case, once the changes take effect it might resolve the OP's situation. If the OP remains an exempt employee, though, it won't change anything.

    By the way, our exempt employees do time sheets also-about the only difference is that they are done monthly rather than bi-weekly as for non-exempt employees. My employer still expects a 40 hour(or 37.5 hour) week out of exempt employees.
     

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