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Compensation Confusion

Q. I have been told I will receive additional compensation for work I am performing, but I have not received the terms and conditions of this compensation in writing. I continue to perform the work even though I am opposed, and not technically obligated to do this work. I am wondering what my employer’s obligations are under these circumstances.

A. Work and compensation go together well, and employees need to know how that compensation is determined. Many employers wrongly assume that employees are clear on the complexities of how they get paid, and their status as an employee as it relates to compensation and benefits. Having these conversations when someone is hired, and again anytime their pay is impacted – positively or negatively – is one of the best ways to avoid employee relations issues.

You seem unhappy about being asked to perform additional work, and I am not sure if that is because you are not clear how you will be compensated, because it is not in writing, or if there are other reasons. I consulted with David Conforto, an employment attorney at Conforto Law Group, who notes, “It is unclear whether the employee is an exempt employee (not entitled to overtime) who is agreeing to take on more work for a higher salary down the road or a non-exempt employee (entitled to overtime) who is working beyond 40 hours per week with no extra pay. Whether the employee is exempt or non-exempt would depend on the duties he or she performs — this can sometimes be a very fact intensive analysis with no clear answer”.

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Find out if you have been classified as an exempt or non-exempt employee. This information may be on your pay check stub and it will help you determine what your employers’ obligations are. You can also have a conversation with your manager about how and when your additional work will be compensated, and how long you can anticipate needing to do this work since you are not inclined to take on additional responsibilities. Supporting an organization with a short term need can benefit how you are viewed as an employee. If you cannot provide the additional work support needed, communicate that information in a positive way. Some positions carry mandatory overtime. Knowing all of this information in advance, and keeping communication current and ongoing will be the best way to keep the work environment positive for all involved.

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