Can an employer require its employees to work overtime?

October 26, 2020
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Absent a collective bargaining agreement to the contrary, it is generally accepted that management has the right to require employees to work overtime when business conditions make such scheduling necessary. In exercising this right, employers should be reasonable and fair, ensuring that mandatory overtime is used only for legitimate business needs. Employees should be advised and regularly reminded of the company’s policy on mandatory overtime. It is important that they understand the conditions for its use and the consequences of not complying with the policy. Refusal to work overtime should be treated as any other rule violation, and appropriate discipline should be applied. In turn, employers should make every attempt to provide reasonable notice of the need for overtime. Be sensitive to the needs of your employees and consider legitimate excuses fairly and consistently. Consider seeking volunteers for overtime before initiating mandatory overtime. Employers should familiarize themselves with the laws regarding overtime and meal and rest periods in the states in which they operate as well as any industry specific restrictions. It is recommended that employers consult with an attorney in developing and implementing a policy on mandatory overtime, as they should with any new policy.


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