Off-the-clock time is when an hourly employee officially clocks out but continues to work. Some workplaces, some employers, lots of people believe that this is a standard for hard work.
Off-the-clock work is held as an example of the “come in early and leave late” mentality that so many employers desire. It’s also a violation of worker rights across the country and costs every worker.
Any “Off-the-clock work” changes the entire labor market
If you look at labor as a commodity, as most employers do, then you should see it for what it is. Labor is time. Your time. When you choose to work for an employer, you sell that employer your time for a rate. That’s the entire transaction. By throwing in “free” time to your employer, you increase the hours your employer gets from you without paying for them.
To look at it another way, off-the-clock time is an individual putting their time on sale to their employer. However, retail sales are around to create a volume and profit. Your employer is not going to buy more of your hours simply because you’ll give them cheaply.
The more people who put their hours on sale, the less employers feel inclined to pay for those hours.
How to change a cultural expectation of off-the-clock work?
If the entire company has a view of work that you should clock out and continue working, then your most obvious option is litigation. Time is the right of every employee, and no employer has the right to demand to give away your time for free under any circumstances.
It is important to know that wage-and-hour claims such as overtime and minimum wage may vary from state to state and role to role. However, in many cases, companies must compensate off-the-clock time, and if there is an expectation of working off-the-clock in your workplace, your employer may owe their employees quite a bit of back pay.