Q: I am a college student and I work at a pizza place over the summer to make some money. I do mostly cashiering but sometimes I bus tables and clean up the kitchen at the end of the night. Sometimes I work long hours. When should I be paid time and one-half? I have heard about this but unsure when it applies to me.
A: First, let me assume you are 18 years or older and are not covered by some of the laws which apply to minors (14-17 years old).
Based on what you have described as your job duties, it sounds like you are a non-exempt employee. This means you are entitled being paid overtime. If you work over 40 hours in a single work week, you are entitled to overtime pay (time and one-half) for each hour worked over 40. Also you should be paid at least minimum wage, which is currently $9.00 per hour. Effective January 1, 2016, the minimum wage will increase to $10.00 per hour.
If your hours exceed 40 hours in one week, then you should be paid time and one-half. Your manager though can adjust your hours though to keep you below that threshold. As an example, your manager may schedule you to work three 10-hour days and then ask you to work a six-hour day on Saturday to keep you below the 40-hour threshold. However, if you worked 12 hours on that Saturday, you would be entitled to receive two hours of pay at time and one-half.
The other law that would likely apply to you would be the Massachusetts law on meal breaks. You are permitted to take a 30-minute unpaid meal break if you work more than six consecutive hours. You can voluntarily waive this meal break but then you must be paid for that time.
The Attorney General in Massachusetts has a helpful site on wage and hour laws. Visit http://www.mass.gov/ago/doing-business-in-massachusetts/labor-laws-and-public-construction/wage-and-hour/.
by Pattie Hunt Sinacole, First Beacon Group LLC
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