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Forced Overtime

My question is in regards to forced overtime. I work for a private ambulance company in MA. Their policy states that they can "hold you for up to 2 hours after your shift for operational need". This is not pertaining to dedicated 911 shifts. This is for a private ambulance company that does transfers. It has been brought up many times when they've tried to hold me for 2 hours after my scheduled time. Is this legal?

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Submitted Tue, 01/31/2017 - 09:38

With some very limited exceptions put in place by law (nurses) an employer can legally require you to work whatever shifts and hours they want. They cannot physically prevent you from leaving, but they can fire you if you refuse to stay. As long as you are properly being paid overtime for the hours over 40 per week, an employer can require that you work as many hours as they want. Unfortunately, your only legal options are to accept those hours or quit.

If they are not properly paying you overtime, then you have a wage claim and can sue the employer for three times the wages due, plus attorneys fees.

Atty. David Owens
Grolman LLP

Hi. I work for a private non profrit company with over a 100 employees. I work at one of many shelters that the company has. In the handbook I received at hiring it states that overtime is limited and has to be earned by an employee. The company conducts a paid on call system. However, in the shelter that I work at they do not follow the company's policy fully. The admin get paid on call but will force staff to stay and work 8 hours beyond their shift instead of coming in to relieve staff as the policy states. Is this legal?

Submitted Tue, 04/18/2017 - 11:23

As I stated in my original post, there is no "legal" limit to the amount of overtime a company can required. If the company is violating it's own internal policies, you need to report those violations to the management. A violation of company policy doesn't make it a violation of the law (as long as you get paid for overtime.) Based on what you said, Overtime is being viewed as a benefit, not a drawback. If anything, your supervisor is violating the policy.

Atty. David Owens

My employer has a rule where if someone books off and management can not find a replacement for you, you must stay for a minimum of 4 hours. Can they force me to stay or can I leave with no repercussions?

Submitted Mon, 07/31/2017 - 10:37

As both my previous posts have said, an employer can require you to work WHATEVER hours they want, as long as they pay you for them. This includes requiring you to stay late or come in early, without advanced notice. If you refuse to stay, your employer can legally fire you. The only recourse you may have is that if the hours required were unreasonable, you may still be able to collect unemployment even if fired.

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