[author: Jo Ellen Whitney]
This is the sixth post in a seven-part series. Check back every week for a new topic.
For the most part, Iowa follows the federal statutes, although we have some specific rules pursuant to Iowa Code 91A which relate to the payment of wages. Overtime and misclassification of exempt and non-exempt employees typically create significant issues for many employers. In discussing the issue of overtime, my three take-aways are fairly specific:
1. The Federal Rule is that if you "suffer or permit" an employee to work, that time is paid time. So if you have a wonderful maintenance employee who always comes to work ½ hour early to make sure his tools are ready and he can start the day promptly upon clock-in, that employee has been working an extra ½ hour everyday and is entitled to that time to be paid. It does not matter if you did not ask him to come in, and it doesn't matter if you have occasionally said to him, you know you don't need to come in. If he is there, you know he is there and you have let him do it, then you have to pay him. This rule is a bit similar to the rule that he is not a volunteer if you told him to do it. (All employees will happily volunteer upon pain of death). In that, if an employee is doing work which is to your benefit as the employer, typically, that time will be paid.
2. Many employers have a rule that overtime must be pre-authorized. Occasionally an employee will abuse the overtime system and work overtime even without authorization, or frankly even a necessity for it. Even if an employee has worked unauthorized overtime you must pay the employee overtime. You can discipline the employee for not following policies, you can even fire an employee for not following policies but you need to make sure that the overtime is paid.
3. Working time is just that, time that you work. If you are at work, performing work duties or at another place performing work duties, that is work time. If you are on vacation, sick leave, jury duty or a wide-array of other non-work time, that is not typically considered to be part of the calculation of your 40 hour work week. If you have two vacation days in the middle of the week but work an extra three hours on a Monday, you are not necessarily going to qualify for overtime if the employer follows the strict rule of how "hours worked" is calculated.