Forced Overtime the New Reality for Many US Workers

Though work-life balance is often paraded as the new corporate buzzword, far too many employees don’t enjoy its benefits. Companies only offer work-life balance to white-collared workers while forcing the blue collared counterparts to work ungodly hours. 

Fair Labor Standards Act and Overtime

Part of the tumultuous labor relations of the early 20th century revolved around work hours. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FSLA), signed into law in 1938, put restrictions on work hours and mandated that companies pay overtime for any work above forty hours per week (with some exceptions, of course.)

The intention was to offer workers some critical protections and prevent them from getting taken advantage of. Before the act, companies could force workers into 12-hour days without paying a cent over the hourly wage

Unfortunately, the FSLA doesn’t say that a company can’t force employees to work over 40 hours per week; it only says they must get paid overtime if they work over 40 hours. 

Forced Overtime

The background leads us to the current situation. Far too many companies advertise full-time positions, only for potential employees to discover outrageous expectations during the hiring process. 

One man came to Reddit on behalf of her son, who struggled to find a job that didn’t require mandatory overtime. 

Every job he has applied to says M – F 40 hours,” the user shared. “Then goes in for the interview its 5 10s and mandatory Sat and Sunday,” he added, showcasing the reality of each position. 

These companies are trying to hire people to work 70 hours per week without a day off. 

What’s the deal?

Yes, Mandatory Overtime is Legal

One thing to remember is that the US lacks many vital worker protections. In most states, it’s perfectly legal for companies to require people to work over forty hours per week. There are no protections guaranteeing any time off. 

It’s Cheaper for the Companies

Some users said the companies feel it’s cheaper to exploit the workers they have than to hire new workers. Even paying overtime weekly is more affordable than the additional costs of hiring, insurance, workers comp, social security, and every extra cent they have to pay for each employee. 

There are also numerous rules dictating whether a company is a small business and thus exempt from paying additional fees, like healthcare, to their employees. Corporations would rather hire fewer employees and overwork them than risk exceeding that cap, costing them far more money. 

Short Sighted

Although it seems good on paper, companies don’t realize how short-sighted their requirements are. Many algorithms only take hard numbers like pay and benefits into account. They don’t consider that overworked employees lose productivity or that they’ll get burned out and quit, resulting in higher costs for recruitment and training. 

Companies Will Do Whatever they Can to Save a Buck

Companies don’t care about their workers. Most see labor as a necessary evil and a cost on their spreadsheets. They’ll do everything possible to decrease labor costs without seeing the person behind the work. 

They’d rather run skeleton crews and force employees to bridge the gap than hire more workers. They’d rather force overtime than pay additional staff. Anything that reduces costs is an option. 

Unions Can Help

Companies also love to blast anti-union propaganda because they know strong unions are the only thing preventing them from completely exploiting their workers. 

Unions won workers the forty-hour work week, paid overtime, better benefits, and safer working conditions. When labor stands together, they have the power to fight back against these massive corporations. 

Companies love it when it’s every man for themself because a single person is far easier to exploit. 

Source: Reddit