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Overtime is a sticky subject. Obviously, there are legal issues, but there are also culture, relationship and budget factors in the equation.
First and foremost, you should always refer to your letter of employment, employment contract and your employee handbook to answer questions about overtime in your specific company. The second set of resources are your direct supervisor and your Human Resources person. The third is observation. If you are just starting in a position, observe your coworkers. Are they putting in overtime? Are they including it on their time sheet?
Have you seen The Pitch on AMC? The culture in those offices is to work until the job is done, period. Now, granted, most of those employees are salaried, but the culture of the company is to work more than 40 hours a week.
No employer likes to be nickel and dimed. No employee likes to be monitored like a hawk for every five-minute increment. It’s time-consuming, micromanage-y and petty on both parties.
Let’s say for example, you are an hourly employee and in your letter of employment you are eligible for overtime. You typically work your 40 hours a week, but occasionally you’re asked to come in early or stay a little late. Usually, your direct supervisor considers the extra time to be “comp time” and lets you take a longer lunch or go to an appointment to balance everything out. In this instance, unless otherwise told by your direct supervisor, you should not be putting in for overtime pay. The unspoken rule could be interpreted rule that under three hours should be considered compensation time. When you adhere to this office culture practice, you’re showing you are a team player, conscientious of the cost and budget implications of paying you overtime.
What’s the overtime culture in your company?
As a young journalist, I followed my then fiancée (now husband) to a new state practically half way across the country. Twice. This left me with some gaps in my resume.
Some older HR people frowned on these gaps and one recruiter flat-out told me it looked so bad the company would never consider me. This comment initially left me crushed. Then I realized, I probably didn’t want to work for this company if they were willing to judge me by the few months I wasn’t working instead of the time I was working.
While searching for a fulltime position, I waited tables and I freelanced as much as I could for whoever would pay me. Mostly, I realized just how much what I did for 40 hours a week defined me. The extra time allowed me to think about what I like and dislike about every job I’ve had and answer just about very interview question possible.
I truly hope that with today’s economy, those who frowned on my employment gaps have the sense to look beyond the gaps others may have.