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Are Coders Exempt From California's Overtime Laws? 693

Posted by Cliff
from the a-hole-in-the-loop dept.
Gizmo Kid asks: "How many of you Californian, full-time, software programmers are getting paid overtime? From what I understand, a law in California, passed within the last two years, says that software engineers who make less than $41/hour [PDF version] are required to be paid for overtime? Are your employers following the rules? I'm not sure mine is?"
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Are Coders Exempt From California's Overtime Laws?

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  • by sp1nl0ck (241836) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @08:19AM (#5278501)
    What an amazing idea - usually this sort of thing just gets written into your T&Cs. It certainly does where I work. If you hit a certain salary grade, they don't pay you overtime - you get TOIL instead.

    • by sczimme (603413) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @08:33AM (#5278551)

      you get TOIL instead

      TOIL for everyone! Woohoo!

      Oh, wait...

      Yes, it means Time-Off-In-Lieu [of $$$]. (At least I think it does.)
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Wait; you can be paid for overtime?
    • by Sparr0 (451780) <sparr0@gmail.com> on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @08:53AM (#5278637) Homepage Journal
      Maybe you misunderstand. Overtime isnt something you can give up. The law REQUIRES the company to pay you at 1.5x your normal rate of pay for time over 40 hours a week. It does not provide an option for you to opt for TOIL or any other alternative compensation.
      • by autocracy (192714) <slashdot2007 AT storyinmemo DOT com> on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @09:11AM (#5278726) Homepage
        For hourly workers. Skilled salaried workers are in a different boat...
        • by Zeni (52928) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @10:09AM (#5279044)

          This is false and a common misconception. A salaried employee (who is required overtime pay) receives 1.5x his/her equivilent hourly wage. Being salaried does not expempt a person from OT, the position/job duties do.
          From my understanding management is OT exempt. (there are more exemptions but IIRC don't apply in this situation.) Your state may vary.
          • There are many "exempt" employee positions. Exempt status is determined by rate of pay, education level, and industry experience. And yes, various IT jobs can gain exempt status on as low as 30k a year (although some places seem to say that the lowest exempt-status IT job must be at least $27/hour).
            • Actually, rate of pay, education level, and experience have nothing to do with exempt/non-exempt status. All that matters is your job functions, responsibilities, and duties. A double PHD who makes $400 an hour flipping burgers (and has been doing it for 30 years) still gets overtime. A HS dropout making $20 an hour on his first day as VP of production doesn't get overtime IF his job duties are commensurate with his job title. If he's making hiring decisions, setting policies, approving budgets, etc... then no overtime. If he's just flipping burgers, then he gets OT, VP title or not.
          • Here is the federal law dealing with exemptions from overtime for Software engineers and programmers:

            http://www.laborcounsel.com/FLSA.htm

            (17) any employee who is a computer systems analyst, computer programmer, software engineer, or other similarly skilled worker, whose primary duty is--

            (A) the application of systems analysis techniques and procedures, including consulting with users, to determine hardware, software, or system functional specifications;

            (B) the design, development, documentation, analysis, creation, testing, or modification of computer systems or programs, including prototypes, based on and related to user or system design specifications;

            (C) the design, documentation, testing, creation, or modification of computer programs related to machine operating systems; or

            (D) a combination of duties described in subparagraphs (A), (B), and (C) the performance of which requires the same level of skills, and
            who, in the case of an employee who is compensated on an hourly basis, is compensated at a rate of not less than $27.63 an hour.


            D above is the stickler. If you are salaried then D will not apply since it is only for employees who are "compensated on an hourly basis". So any salaried employee who's job description fits A,B or C above is exempt from overtime.
      • by Lil'wombat (233322) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @11:27AM (#5279684)
        The classification of exempt and nonexempt employees are defined by a 1970's era law. This article [inc.com] published in the current issue of Inc Magazine goes into great detail. Overtime compensation lawsuits are the new "cash cow" of employment lawsuits. Join the class action early!
    • by BWJones (18351) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @11:07AM (#5279507) Homepage Journal
      It certainly does where I work. If you hit a certain salary grade, they don't pay you overtime - you get TOIL instead.

      I'm sorry, but this is laughable on one hand. In my fields, medicine and science, folks with earned doctorates (Ph.D.'s & M.D.'s) routinely get paid a pittance (~$30k) while piling on more hours than most folks can imagine (100-120 hrs/week). Granted, everyone wants to make more money, and there should be limits placed upon the amount of time one should have to work, but when I hear dudes making $75-80k/year bitching because they are not getting paid time and a half for the "extra" 5 hours a week they are working, I just have to shake my head and wonder what I have gotten myself into.

  • Move to Europe ! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @08:23AM (#5278509)
    It really works, you get decent holidays, you dont get screwed out of your retirement. It has democracy inside ! (no inherited positions of power, for example) It depends much less on imported oil. (which will run out in your lifetime, enjoy)
    (Too many other reasons to mention)
    • Re:Move to Europe ! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @09:45AM (#5278882)
      I posted this below under 'Go On Strike!', but it seems more appropriate here:

      Move to Europe!

      I'm an American currently working in Germany which is supposed to be a worker's paradise. I moved here 6 months ago to work for an accounting firm just because I thought it would be fun to live in Europe for a little while.

      My work experience has been much less kind then I expected. The company is great, and the people are nice, but the conditions are definitely not 'pro-worker.' My contract has a minimum 40 hour work week, I pay my own insurance, and my salary is less than half what it was in the States. My co-workers are literallly awed by the pay and benefits that I got in the US.

      And the job market is just as bad here as it is in the US. In fact, unemployment is even higher here.

      Anyone who claims that Europe is a better place to work isn't telling the whole story.
  • by jacquesm (154384) <j@w w . com> on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @08:23AM (#5278511) Homepage
    Whatever happened to being paid in pizza's, jolt coke and pda's anyway, isn't being employed in the IT branch some kind of new slavery ?
  • by llamaluvr (575102) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @08:24AM (#5278516) Journal
    I'm not sure mine is?

    Don't ask me, buddy - I'm not sure if he's following the rules, either!
  • Salaried workers (Score:2, Informative)

    by wiredog (43288)
    don't get overtime. At least in Virginia. Well, they may if the contract specifies it, but it's not required.
    • Re:Salaried workers (Score:3, Informative)

      by AppyPappy (64817)
      Salaried workers are exempt from overtime. The State figures you are getting paid enough. Plus many companies do not offer sick packages. If you are sick, you stay home. The State of Virginia has two plans: VSDP and old school. In the old school, you accumulate sick pay every month. I have about 2 months worth saved up over the last 5 years. VSDP gives you a set amount (like 14 days) a year. After that, you can use vacation for it or go to short term disability which is a complicated formula designed to keep lawyers employed.

      Most companies on my resume just gave you the time off without penalty. I worked for a mill that gave you 10 paid days which everyone used in January and then they came in sick for the rest of the year. They couldn't risk getting to the end of the year with free days left.

      Overtime? In the South? Yeah, right.
  • by StormyWeather (543593) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @08:26AM (#5278526) Homepage
    Right now most IT companies that my friends work for, and mine as well are really putting the screws to the employees. Our company is demanding more work, giving scanty raises, and lowering our benefits. Unfortunately I live in Texas which is traditionally a state that favors the employer heavily. Good luck with your OT issue, but if it was me right now I would probably just lay low being the heartless coward I am :). I know that even if you win you will probably lose your job for not turning off the lights when you leave or something stupid like that. If I were you I would just take the screwing they are giving you, keep track of your hours, and if you ever get fired or quit then sue for back pay and take the nice fat bonus at the end :).
    • Right now most IT companies that my friends work for, and mine as well are really putting the screws to the employees. Our company is demanding more work, giving scanty raises, and lowering our benefits. Unfortunately I live in Texas which is traditionally a state that favors the employer heavily. Good luck with your OT issue, but if it was me right now I would probably just lay low being the heartless coward I am :). I know that even if you win you will probably lose your job for not turning off the lights when you leave or something stupid like that. If I were you I would just take the screwing they are giving you, keep track of your hours, and if you ever get fired or quit then sue for back pay and take the nice fat bonus at the end :).

      Sorry, but this is bullshit. This is america's bullshit where you have no job protection. Where you have to fend for yourself through lawyers.

      Its really less human than say a nice atmosphere of *living* like a european country, or brazil or korea.

      There was an article featured here on slashdot by ben stein about exactly this.
      I live in texas too. When I can't find a tech job that isnt *nice* and *proper* I do other work, why? because Im happier as a waiter/chef at night and writing open source during the day than when Im an a competitive, non-team like atmosphere.

      Ben stein link: http://ask.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=02/12/16/17 24232
      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @09:15AM (#5278738)
        Hah, yeah like in Italy where nobody below manager can be fired. And look what an economic powerhouse Italy is!

        Having job protection makes the worker feel better, but it hurts the economy (Sometimes employers just have to cut 5000 jobs to stay afloat - is it better for the company to go out of business because it's paying a bunch of dead weights?) and it eliminates healthy competition.
        • by sabinm (447146) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @10:01AM (#5278986) Homepage Journal
          Just one question -- what is the benefit of the economy at the other extreme -- take for instance unlimited power of executives -- is that good for the economy? Enron, WorldCom, anyone? The truth is too much power on either side will destroy the economy. Controls are put on both labor and capital because both sides will try to exploit the weakness of the free market and loot the unaware. I have been on both sides of the equation. Don't be too eager to take any side of this argument. Neither are justified in using people and resources as if there were no consequences to their poorly executed decisions
    • It seems unlikely that the government would pass a law like this without at least giving some thought to how they're going to enforce it. I know they've got all kinds of labor law signs posted in the break rooms that they're required by law to put up, I imagine one of those signs probably has info on how to anonymously alert the appropriate regulatory body that your employer may not be following the overtime rules.
    • by Soulslayer (21435) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @09:39AM (#5278856) Homepage
      Actually I've found Texas to be damn evil when going after companies that violate employee rights.

      If you win a case in Texas court stating that your former employer owes you income the state will take over the role of collections agent for you. If the company fails to pay within 14 days of receipt of notice their accounts are frozen and the state takes as much money from the accounts as is needed to pay the employee. If there is not enough in the account to pay the back pay than the state will take all the money and release the account. They will then issue another notice to the offending company. Once the company puts more funds into the bank account (you'd be surprised how many do this after having already had the accounts frozen once) the state will freeze the account again and remove the required funds. They repeat this as often as necessary until the former employee has been paid what the court ordered.

      I've seen the above happen. One of my roommates left a company that shafted him on salary and when he won the case (mostly because the offending company kept refusing to show up in court) it became hysterical to watch the state smack that firm around until the debt was paid.

      Texas also has some interesting laws I am running into just now regarding lay offs and severance package requirements that heavily favors the laid off employee.
  • overtime? hahaha (Score:4, Informative)

    by phunhippy (86447) <zavoid@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @08:27AM (#5278532) Journal
    I work for a company where my boss told my group that would like us to train other members of other groups.. ok fine no problem.. then he wants to do it outside our normal 8 hour shift.. haha that went over real well!! we told him we'd do it during work hours or not at all.. and it worked.
  • overtime issues (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kbs (70631) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @08:27AM (#5278534)
    What I've found (and this isn't really a California thing, but more like something I've found regularly at companies) is that overtime isn't mandatory, but if you have a deadline, you need to finish your responsibility by then. If you can do it within the normal work hours, then great! More power to you! But if you can't, it would reflect badly on you if you didn't put in the extra time, despite the fact the company doesn't pay for overtime. It's one of those "you're doing it because you want to, not because we're making you" despite the fact that you are really in a situation where you need to in order not to get a bad review.
    • Re:overtime issues (Score:5, Insightful)

      by forsetti (158019) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @08:31AM (#5278546)
      In some circumstances, I would agree with you, however, most of the time I find myself burning the midnight oil because management decids to ignore the technical recommendations and have set unrealistic deadlines
    • Re:overtime issues (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @08:51AM (#5278627)
      And it was also a good idea for coal miners to put in that extra effort to get the extra ton of coal mined by the time they left for the day. Not because they make you, but because you wanted to. Heck, we're not making you work 16 hours today, you just want to to fulfill an obligation you feel you owe to the company. Overtime? You're exempt!

      Sorry, but no. Exempt status is the new slavery. It shouldn't exist. All people should be paid hourly, period. If you work more than 40 hours a week for any reason you earn time and a half. Life in America would be a lot better for families if mom and dad weren't expected to put in 80 hours a week for their base salary with the threat of being fired looming over their head. Your number one obligation is to the people you love, your family, friends, etc. Work doesn't even place a distant second in my opinion. I'll help out if it doesn't effect my family life, but otherwise when my 8 hours are in I leave for the day and forget about work. Companies don't care about you! You're just a resource to be exploited like a machine processing materials.

      • Re:overtime issues (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Stephen Williams (23750) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @09:10AM (#5278723) Journal
        You're just a resource to be exploited like a machine processing materials.

        Indeed. Notice how personnel departments are never called "personnel" any more? S'always "human resources" nowadays.

        -Stephen
      • Re:overtime issues (Score:4, Insightful)

        by tftp (111690) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @09:28AM (#5278806) Homepage
        All people should be paid hourly, period.

        Sorry, it can't work this way. For example, one guy is lazy and stupid, and it takes him 3 days to code "Hello World" in Perl. And another guy is -normal- (not even genius), and it takes him 3 hours to do a similar job.

        Now tell me how can I pay them hourly if the lazy guy just relaxes, while the other one works?

        One fair way is to pay per work performed. You estimate some reasonable time needed, you give the assignment, and whenever they finish is up to them. If the lazy guy has to come on weekends, it's his problem.

        The only alternative is to fire the lazy guy. But I fail to see how it helps; and as an employer I really don't mind using lazy guy's help even it comes slower than usual. People are different, and something that is obvious to one may require extensive reading to another.

        • by DEBEDb (456706) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @12:55PM (#5280506) Homepage Journal
          And another guy is -normal- (not even genius), and it takes him 3 hours to do a similar job.


          3 hours to write "Hello World" in Perl is normal?

      • Re:overtime issues (Score:4, Insightful)

        by spRed (28066) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @09:29AM (#5278807)
        Don't take a job that requires an 80 hour work week.
        If somehow you didn't know 80 hours was expected, or if you were lied to in the job interview then quit.

        You say as much, you have a family and value the time you spend with them so you have a job that doesn't require more than 40 hours a week. That is a mature decision, you made a choice between available alternatives.

        Declaring that there should be justice and plenty for all and the man is trying to keep us down is just plain childish. Ditto for the vague idea that everyone is entitled to their dream job. It doesn't exist, you pick between what is available.

      • Re:overtime issues (Score:4, Insightful)

        by ratamacue (593855) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @11:40AM (#5279802)
        Companies don't care about you! You're just a resource to be exploited

        Wrong. You are a resource offering your service in exchange for compensation. Employment is a form of trade. By engaging a work contract, you are engaging in trade. It is up to you to determine whether or not your trade is worthwhile. If you don't have enough information to do that, it is up to you to seek employment elsewhere. If you don't have the ability to determine if your trade is worthwhile, then you shouldn't have engaged work contract in the first place. Why exactly should I be punished (via taxes) because you can't make a good decision?

        Smart employers will always care about you, because they care about their investment. To propose that employers don't care about you is to propose that they don't care about their business, which is illogical.

        In a free market, incidentally, employers who don't care about their employees would quickly disappear. Logically, employees will reward the employers who care and punish the ones who don't, through the process of market competition. But we don't operate in a free market. Government is very deeply entangled in the economic system.

        • Re:overtime issues (Score:3, Insightful)

          by HiThere (15173)
          You are presuming a non-existant level playing field. If there ever was a free market in this country, it must have been sometime before 1860, and after 1800. I didn't study much history covering that period. Possibly also some time before 1750. But I consider this unlikely.

          "Power politics" is much more accurate as a descriptive term than "free market" for any period of time that I am well informed enough to have an opinion. Wealthy people buy and bought laws that favor them. This doesn't make governmental oversight any panacea. Regulatory commissions that are at all effective tend to become captive of those that they regulate, and tend to create environments where new businesses are severly penalized for attempting to enter an area. Commissioners tend to be hired by companies upon their retirement, and then used to lobby their old friends in government. etc.

          Centralization of power is the chief evil that I see here. How to avoid it is much less clear. An employer rep. doesn't benefit from doing a good job, but rather from appearing to do a good job. If a manager can cause the staff to put in more hours without paying extra, it will look good on his record, regardless of what the result is in terms of project quality, correctness, or employee morale. Those are hard to measure.

          You can say that a smart employer wouldn't act this way, but you are assuming that the manager is the top management. In a small enough company you may well be correct, but when you start dealing with hierarchical levels, then the social contracts stop working. The top manager gets only a very abstracted image of what is happening, and how the staff feel. He deals mainly with the managers, who deal with the supervisors, who deal with the staff. There can be more levels, but that just makes things worse. Top management can't know the details. So only the easily measured things get abstracted. No malice needs to be involved. But at each intermediate level, the managers at that level are rated by the things that are easily measured and quantified, and passed along.

          The result is that, yes, you shouldn't be surprised to be exploited. It's not optimal behavior for the business, but it's optimal behavior for the managers as individuals.

          I'm always surprised that labor unions are so disregarded. Yes, they are subject to the same limitations, but they did act as a countermeasure against the more extreme examples of abuse. Corrupt? Of course. Organizations that centralize authority can't avoid corruption in one form or another. And labor unions did centralize authority. And the leaders benefited from making impossible promises. But they frequently didn't themselves know that the promises were impossible. (That information was considered secret, so the companies wouldn't share it. And it still is.) My memories still rankle at the times that management has talked staff into not insisting on a pay raise because the economic conditions were too bad, and then as soon as the agreement was signed they turned around and gave themselves a larger pay raise than the staff had been requesting. One of them said "you should have hired yourselves a better negotiator", but the problem was that the necessary information to make a decision had been falsified. Don't expect anything better. I have it on good authority that our management is (or was) better than most. But don't trust them either.

          Unfortunately, this doesn't give much of a clue as to what you should do. Yes, you are probably being illegally exploited. But this doesn't necessarily mean that you should complain to the laws. That might well be to your long-term disadvantage. And this would apply even after you have accepted a new job, and tendered your resignation. Remember, your new boss will be in a machine with the same basic shape, and if he should feel that you are a threat, he will probably find a reason to dispense with your services. And the note in your personnel records probably wouldn't make a good reference for a new job. (And who writes the note? Who gets to evaluate it for correctness? Centralization of authority again.)

    • While this is true, here in Virginia I read up on the laws. Unless you're a salary worker who has a fixed amount of pay then you're required to pay the worker overtime pay when the number of hours worked in a one week period of time exceeds 40 hours.

      I actually looked this up so I can show it to the project manager in case he ever gets antsy and not want to authorize me getting my overtime pay.
    • Who set the deadline?

      Management? -- It is generally forced.

      Programmer? - learn to estimate better.
    • Re:overtime issues (Score:4, Interesting)

      by GothChip (123005) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @09:24AM (#5278773) Homepage
      If you have need to work overtime then make sure it is logged and you claim for it.

      If you are working overtime because the project needs to be finished, rather than because it needs to be done out-of-hours, log every hour you work, otherwise the situation deteriates into a vicious circle.

      If a project is assigned 5 hours work and it takes 7 hours to finish, say it took 7 hours. If you say it took 5 hours and the client is billed for 5 hours it shows an unrealistic idea of how much work that can be done in a set time. Next time the client will want 14 hours worth of work done in 10 hours. And then the problem gets worse and worse. Eventually the programmers will be working 20 hours a day but only get paid for 8.

      I've seen this happen at a company I used to work with. When I started everyone enjoyed working there and we used to go out for drinks every night. Six months later the programmers never came out anymore as they were working long hours for no overtime. Eventually a lot of them quit.

      Check your contract. If it says you work 9-5 then work 9-5. Anything else they can pay for.
  • by Tsar (536185) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @08:29AM (#5278538) Homepage Journal
    "Are your employers following the rules? I'm not sure mine is?"

    You don't know whether you're being paid overtime? Maybe you aren't a software engineer. Does your job involve computers? Just because you work with a large flat surface that you cook hamburgers on doesn't mean it's a Pentium 66.
  • Contract? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by egjertse (197141) <slashdot@fTOKYOutt.org minus city> on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @08:33AM (#5278552) Homepage
    Well I don't live in California, but I have had work contracts that explicitly say I am not entitled to compensation for overtime. I've always wondered if this sort of contract is legally binding, if it turns out that provisions given in the contract contradict rights that are granted employees by law... Can one sign away ones "right" to paid overtime?

    Then again, with the current work climate I guess people will sign just about anything to get a job...

    • Re:Contract? (Score:2, Informative)

      by geniusj (140174)
      Not in california for that law. He should be getting over time if he is indeed a software engineer and getting paid less than $85k. You start with complaining.. They owe you retroactively from when the law took effect. The same thing happened at a company I worked for in CA. I came into work and was greeted with a $10k check because of retroactive overtime they owed me due to that law. Lawsuit would work if they don't give it to you. If what you're saying is true, they will not win. If they haven't been keeping track of your hours, then what hours you worked are pretty much your call since they weren't smart enough to have any proof otherwise. So anyway, don't let them screw you :)
    • Re:Contract? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Naikrovek (667) <`moc.gsp' `ta' `nosnhojj'> on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @08:57AM (#5278664)
      don't think so. you can't sign away the effectiveness of the law. a law is a law, and contracts have to obey that law as well.
    • Re:Contract? (Score:3, Informative)

      by s.a.m (92412)
      Contracts fall under a different category entirely. This is not a strict employer-emplyee relationship. The terms of the contract need to be negotiated and well if a certain amount of hours are stated for the contract then you need to stick to it.

      If you realize that it's gonna take a lot more than you estimated you have two options, one talk to the person whom you've made a contract and see if it can be extended etc. Or two suck it up and do the work.

      Funny thing is if they say no to the extention / re-negotiation then you're screwed and you still have to produce the work. I've been working on helping to develop contracts and I work with the president of my company and I'm there for the staff meetings where project status is discussed and any problems that might come up needs to be addressed asap b/c they will affect deliverables.

  • by Rewtie (552738) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @08:33AM (#5278553) Homepage Journal
    I work for a Cali based company, although I live in Orlando, FL. I'm just a contract employee with them, and do not get overtime (nor do I expect it).

    What I am wondering is if this applies to people who are working full time and telecommuting to a company outside of their state? I am under the impression that one falls under the guidelines of the state they reside in, but I could be wrong.

    Just for the record, although I do not get paid OT with the CA company, they're very generous in their allotted coding time.
  • by johnkoer (163434) <johnkoer@@@yahoo...com> on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @08:33AM (#5278555) Homepage Journal
    In the current economy, you should be happy that you have a job. My company has been treating employees very poorly for the last year or so, but we don't have much of a choice. There are not too many people hiring in my neck of the woods and those that are, are being inundated with resumes from all the unemployed people. It's hard just to get an interview these days.

    Just be happy that you have a job!
  • California? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Manos Batsis (608014) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @08:34AM (#5278557)
    How about the rest of the world? The question should read "Are IT workers out there on the globe being paid overtime?". The answer, of course, is usually no.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @08:35AM (#5278559)
    I doubt it. Not when there are thousands of programmers in countries like India who will gladly code for next to nothing. For every programmer who manages to get overtime pay due to this law, half a dozen will end up unemployeed because their job got shipped to foreign developers.
    • hehe. Well, you know I really hope that a lot of corps will outsource their stuff to India for a while, that will make a lot of work for folks here in trying to untangle the mess.


      I have seen one of these projects up close, and I can tell you it wasn't pretty. Probably there are examples to the contrary, but in this particular case they ended up spending roughly double what it would have cost them to do it locally in the first place.

      • We have a number of these projects and they've all gone to hell in handbasket. The Senior Programmer / Analysts spend their time doing analysis and the fun work gets shipped off to be screwed up by people that think Java is an alternative to herbal tea. Talk about sucking the soul out of something that used to be fun!
        • just wait until they invent the cross breed between child labour and outsourcing, that'll be a party.


          On a more serious note though, keep in mind that the only reason these outsourcing projects look enticing - any kind of them, white collar work, blue collar work, that's irrellevant - is because the wealth in the world is distributed unevenly.

      • Your "observation" sounds more like arrogant, elitist wishful thinking to me. Do you think the US or Europe is the only place where high quality coding can be done?

        If you really think that then you are in for a rude awakening.
  • Go on strike! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by forgoil (104808) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @08:36AM (#5278562) Homepage
    The situation for people working in the US seems to be quite bad, at least to me. Isn't it time you guys start a proper union and start raising some hell?

    And how much paid vacation time I get per year? 6 weeks. How many weeks do you get in the states? And yes, I am only 26.

    Complain, make it better, do something (and get free Coca Cola as mandatory).

    (and if you happen to run a cool and nice company, with proper benefits, consider hiring me;))
    • Re:Go on strike! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @08:48AM (#5278609)
      What worries me most is hearing of some of the shocking states of workers in the US. and mod me down for complaining about things worth complaining about. Seems every askslashdot with questions about work conditions brings up the "be glad you have a job" comments.

      Yes, be glad you have a job... then in 15 years after y'all are continually 'glad just to have a job' and being paid less and less, working longer hours, with less benefits and worse conditions... it gets closer and closer to not having a worthwhile job at all

      No I'm not in the US, yes I'm employed, and I'm earning a decent amount without insane overtime expectations because my co-workers and I won't take shit from our employers. We'll accept when there are hard times or projects that need extreme amounts of dedication to finish, but as for consistent long term crap... no way.
      • by Anitra (99093) <slashdot@noSpAm.anitra.fastmail.fm> on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @10:13AM (#5279069) Homepage Journal
        The reason you hear "be glad you have a job" so often is not a surprise: many Slashdotters are OUT OF WORK, and have been for a while. It's also the reason why those currently employed are scared to speak up: they think they'll have a hard time finding a new job, too.

        The tech sector has a glut of qualified people; it's the law of supply and demand. Bad news for me, as I'm about to graduate with a degree in CS.

        I'm glad you're employed, and I'm glad you won't take any crap from your employers. But you can afford to feel that way. I bet if you did get fired, you'd be able to find another job pretty quickly.
    • Re:Go on strike! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by spRed (28066)
      We have a thing over here, it is called
      "Vote with your feet"

      Leave, get another job on better terms. If you can't get a job on terms you like better, tough cookies. You are not entitled to one. The idea that if everyone banded together then more money to pay workers would magically appear is rediculous.

      You can complain that you get less of the company profits as an employee than the investors. Again, vote with your feet and start a company. People do it everyday. Most millionaires in the US got that way by starting their own business which is still a small business.

      If you pass a law that says 6 weeks vacation for everyone you disallow people to _choose_ to take a job that offers more pay in exchange for less than six weeks of vacation.

  • Looks like (Score:5, Informative)

    by Enry (630) <{ten.agyaw} {ta} {yrne}> on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @08:37AM (#5278567) Journal
    This only applies to hourly workers who get paid less than $41/hr. If you make more, you're exempt. If you're salaried, you're exempt. Unless the laws of CA are different from elsewhere (and I worked for two CA companies).

    It's been a LONG time since I've been an hourly employee.
  • by The Night Watchman (170430) <smarotta@gmail.cDEBIANom minus distro> on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @08:42AM (#5278589)
    I work as a developer for a defense contractor on the East Coast, and they do indeed give paid overtime, as well as flex time. Of course, they've been trying to get rid of that for years. Then again, if they did that, they'd have to raise salaries, because they're vastly non-competitive on base pay alone. Then there's my manager, who tells me to bring my work home and do it on the weekends, without pay, and without charging my time to the contract, which is actually very illegal. And we're not talking minimum security illegal, we're talking federal pound-me-in-the-ass illegal.

    But yes, as long as we're here sitting at our desks, typing away like good little code monkeys, we do get paid overtime. For now.

    /* Steve */
  • seriously (Score:4, Funny)

    by sawilson (317999) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @08:42AM (#5278590) Homepage
    I'd be quiet if I were you and just be happy that
    your manager occasionally comes down from on high
    to mingle with the commoners. Make sure to kiss
    the feet of your corporate masters who see fit to
    pay you at all. Remember, you are just a smartass
    know it all computer person and people like you are
    literally a dime a dozen in India. You'll bend over
    if you know what's good for ya. :)
    THANK YOU FOR LOOKING OUT FOR US CORPORATE AMERICA!!
  • by kfg (145172) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @08:46AM (#5278603)
    Sometimes VERY different. This makes the subject matter of the article rather vague and only directly applicable to California IT workers.

    Here in NYS, last time I looked ( which I admit was a couple of decades ago) one could be legally made salaried management for only $251.25/wk, and once you are salaried the only work time restriction your employers face is the requirement that you make at least minimum wage if your time were tracked on an hourly basis and that you have at least one day every fortnight off.

    So, as always, check your *local* labor laws and consult a *local* lawyer with a specialty in labor contracts.

    Oh, yeah. Do it *before* you sign anything.

    KFG
  • ... is this in the "Slashdot" topic?

    Anyone?
  • As soon as you hit project manager you lose your eligibility for overtime. Oddly enough project managers work more overtime than anyone else.

    I like my worker bee status.... salaried but get paid for time over 40.... I suppose I will eventually be assimilated as well.... but that's tha nature of us tech workers right? Once you hit a certain age you better be ready to enter management of some sort.... you don't see a lot of coders after 40...
  • by terminal.dk (102718) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @08:53AM (#5278639) Homepage
    Around here overtime is one thing. That is when you are told specificly to stay longer to work on a specific project. Needs authorization from a manager / project manager in each occasion. That will cause extra money.

    But if you are just a little short of time, have been surfing too much etc, then it is not overtime, but extra hours you are expected to give by your own free will. Depending on your salary, you might give 5 minutes, 15 minutes or even 30 minutes per day for free. Above that, and you usually get overtime, or have a job where the contract does not list any weekly number of hours.
  • by rockville (14298) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @08:55AM (#5278651)
    Looks like the /. crowd is saying "suck it up" or "there's nothing you can do". Well, actually, there is.

    here's part of the California Dept of Labor FAQ [ca.gov] about Overtime

    Q. What can I do if my employer doesn't pay me my overtime wages?

    A. You can either file a wage claim eve with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (the Labor Commissioner's Office), or you can file a lawsuit in court against your employer in to recover the lost wages.

    Q. What can I do if my employer retaliates against me because I told him I was going to file a wage claim for unpaid overtime?

    A. If your employer discriminates or retaliates against you in any manner whatsoever, for example, he discharges you because you file a wage claim or threaten to file a wage claim with the Labor Commissioner, you can file a discrimination/retaliation complaint with the Labor Commissioner's Office. In the alternative, you can file a lawsuit in court against your employer.


    Here's what I would do if I were you:

    1. Call the California Dept of Labor and ask them.
    2. With your newfound information, talk to your boss
    3. If circumstances warrant, file a wage claim.

    Just because the economy is bad does not mean that you lose all of your rights.
  • by jonin (471268) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @08:56AM (#5278653)
    I found this article at www.troubleshooter.com

    by - Carl Khalil, Esq.
    June 05, 2002

    If you are like most people, you have been led to believe that if you are an executive, professional or administrative employee, you are doomed to work 60 hours per week and receive no overtime pay for your efforts, just a set salary. However, it's time to think again.

    One study has estimated that 39 billion of overtime pay is owed to "salaried" employees in the United States who should actually be paid overtime at time and a half when they work over 40 hours in a week. If you are one of these salaried executives, professionals or administrators, often called white collar employees, you might be interested in knowing how likely it is that you may be entitled to a share of this money.

    The Title Game. First, there is the title game. You have a big fancy executive or professional sounding title so your employer does not pay you overtime. Unfortunately for employers, federal overtime laws say that the job title is irrelevant; it is the actual work duties that control. For example, several current and former Waffle House Managers who regularly worked 80-100 hours per week were not paid overtime because they were called "Managers," which is typically an executive position and therefore exempt from overtime pay. However, in reality, the Managers spent most of their time waiting tables, cooking and washing dishes. Hence, they recently won an award of $2.86 million for unpaid overtime when a Tennessee court held they had been misclassified as executives.

    The Salary or Fee Basis Rule. Second, even if you truly are a white collar employee under the overtime laws, you must be paid on a salary basis (often called the no docking rule) or the employer loses the exemption from owing overtime pay. For professionals and administrators, employers may also pay you on a fee basis. If you are not paid according to the strict salary or fee basis rules, the employer must pay you for your overtime even if you truly are a white collar employee. These rules are frequently violated leading to enormous potential overtime exposure.

    To be on a salary basis means that an employee is paid a set amount each week regardless of the hours they work, with some narrow exceptions. In one recent case, Pharmacists at Wal-Mart, who would normally not receive overtime pay as professionals, were sometimes told to go home early when work was slack, and had their pay reduced as a result. A Colorado court held that the salary basis rule was violated and the Pharmacists were owed overtime. In another case, former Managers at an auto parts store had their pay subject to deductions for cash shortages. Once again, an Ohio court held that the salary basis rule was violated and awarded unpaid overtime to the Managers.

    The fee basis rule is rather simple. It means you are paid a flat fee to do a task regardless of how long the task takes. In a recent case, a professional home care nurse, Wendy Elwell, who regularly worked 60 hours per week, won over $50,000 plus her attorney's fees when the court held that her compensation arrangement did not qualify for the fee basis rule because she was paid not only a set fee for home health care visits, but also additional compensation for lengthy visits.

    Independent Contractors. Another area where misclassification commonly occurs is with independent contractors. If someone is under the control of the employer and not functioning as a true free lancer in business for herself, it is likely that she is really an employee, not an independent contractor. While contractors are not covered by overtime laws, employees sure are. In one recent case, a chauffeur at Bell Atlantic won an overtime award when the court ruled him to be an employee even though Bell Atlantic treated him like an independent contractor.

    Overtime Remedies. Under federal law, an employee or ex-employee has two years to bring an overtime claim, three years for willful violations. Some states extend these times under their own overtime laws, and indeed grant broader overtime rights to employees than under federal law. Moreover, a successful employee will normally receive an award of DOUBLE their unpaid overtime, plus their attorney's fees in pursuing the claim.

    In sum, just because you are white collar and paid on a salary does NOT mean that you should not receive overtime pay. Because sometimes you most certainly should.

    Carl Khalil is a Virginia Beach, Virginia attorney and the founder of the website www.PayMyOvertime.com, which is devoted to helping employers and employees learn about their overtime rights and duties. Mr. Khalil is also the founder of www.BreakYourNonCompete.com, which has been featured on the NBC Today and in nationally syndicated career columns.

  • I'd likely be glad I had a job, let alone overtime... ;-)
  • Laws like this suck. It all evens out in the end. If you're not happy about your overtime situation, consider changing your job. If you feel lucky to have a job at the moment, stop complaining.
  • by myom (642275) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @09:03AM (#5278686)
    IT businesses in USA seem to be the western equivalent to Nike sweat shops. Why would you NOT get paid for spending the remaining hours of your already limited time off work? Here in the communist soviet nordic countries, and most civilized EU countries, you get paid 150% or 200% of the hourly wage. And before you start talking about bringing down companies to their knees by them actually paying their workers, last time I checked, the nordic software/tech companies are doing just fine. But here I guess the terrorists have already won or what?
  • by matastas (547484)
    Interesting concept. Most of the soft-e's I know are all full-time salaried employees, and thus exempt from overtime compensation. In fact, I've never seen a full-time position that was eligible for overtime unless it was union (then again, I haven't seen them all). In return, you get stuff like benefits, sick time, insurance, a steady check, etc.

    Oh, and the 'be-thankful-you-have-a-job' crowd? Shut up. Just because you're unemployed and bitter doesn't mean that the rest of us who are working our asses off (and believe me, we are) aren't entitled to our employers following the established laws.
  • by Mantrid (250133) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @09:05AM (#5278695) Journal
    This is slightly off-topic, but it's related. A lot of the crap that goes on whether it be screwing employees out of pay, muddled decisions etc - it seems to me that it most often happens to companies that have publically traded stocks.

    I work for a fairly large company ($80-100 million), but it is all privately held. They treat their employees with respect (for the most part, though bad managers tend to not be around for too long), have great benefits, pay overtime, heck they even spend a fair chunk of change on the Christmas party.

    My theory is that companies like the one I work for, and others of similar size can work a lot better and can afford to treat their employees better if they so choose etc, because they are not tied into the tempests of the public stock exchange. They don't have share holders to constantly report too (well there are share holders, but all within the company). They don't have to worry about losing millions if a bad report comes out. All the money the company has is 'real'. Sure they didn't have the huge inlay of capital at first, but instead a solid business and careful spending, meant that eventually the company became quite profitable and more importantly, remains profitable.

    Does this make any sense?
  • by Greyfox (87712) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @09:30AM (#5278818) Homepage Journal
    I remember a while back a bunch of journalists sued a big newspaper chain, claiming that the chain was using salary to avoid having to pay overtime. Essentially the newspaper chain was requiring all employees to work 10 or 12 hours of overtime a week and would fire anyone who put in 40 hours or less.

    The journalist won and the newspaper got stuck paying 3 years of retroactive back overtime to all their employees. The key point in the case was that the "overtime" was mandatory. So that clause in your employment contract that you're a salaried employee might be worthless if your IT company requires overtime constantly. Might be worth consulting a lawyer, if that's the case.

  • by YeeHaW_Jelte (451855) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @09:57AM (#5278961) Homepage
    This is typically a catch 22 situation. Sure, if your employer doesn't pay you overtime even if he is required to by law, you're fucked either way. Or you don't make a point out of it, and get paid less than you deserve. Or, do make a point out of it, sue the guy, get your pay and leave your job. Because, face it, the boss is going to be pissed off about you taking him to court, and you're never going to be able to reestablish a normal working relationship with him. He'll get you in his own way, either buy making your life miserable or by looking for a reason to fire you, which he'll always be able to find.

    The only reason to do really pursue the issue is to help your co-workers, because if you win the court case your employer would be crazy to risk other cases with the other employees, and if he has some brains in his head he'll start paying them overtime as he should. So, as some other poster already said, do this when you've found another job anyway, sue the guy for backpay, and leave your ex-co-workers with a nice present.
  • Time to unionize. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Scot Seese (137975) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @10:21AM (#5279119)
    This is a long disorganized rant.

    I know what you think. Unions are for trades workers. Not so, ask a school teacher.

    Historically in the U.S., unions were created to correct the horrible treatment of workers by large, overpowerful corporations during the robber-baron era circa 1920's and 1930's. The relevance of unions today has been questioned by big business, citing numerous government regulations that work to protect employees from hazards in the workplace, discrimination, work hours, etc. What these government regulations don't protect you from is being treated like shit by companies that cut hours, push for unpaid overtime, cut perks, cut staffing, cut benefits - All while operating profitably.

    We live in an age when companies are reclaiming the type of power not seen since the 1920's. Where we have robber-barons. CEO's that cut jobs to improve stock performance while taking $10 million dollar bonus packages.

    It works both ways, of course. There are tradeoffs. But I.T. is becomming a basic commoditiy to employers. Don't stroke your ego. While the Slashdot readership may be a clever barrel of monkeys - Inteligent, highly innovative and/or intelligent - The jobs you perform as programmers, sysadmins, network engineers, etc. .. Are no longer "magical." The magic is gone folks, and they're just jobs now. Sorry to break this to you.

    I've always been anti-union. But that was before the dot-com bubble burst. I was working at an ISP a few months ago. I had a guy with a Masters' degree and two certifications walk in our door looking for a job. At an ISP.

    My fiance' is Swedish. In Europe, almost all jobs are protected by government regulations or unions. You -can- fire someone for poor job performance, but it requires a review process. Not the whim of an asshole manager playing office politics.

    Large companies don't like unions. Collective bargaining gives employees power. Review boards investigating alleged employee peformance problems or misconduct puts employees on the same level as management during administrative issues. Employees are no longer drones to be dumped on by management. Peter will in fact NOT work this saturday, Bob.

    Did you know that the Teamsters is trying to unionize nursing staff in hospitals across the country? Why? Because hospitals are mistreating nurses. Underpaid, overworked, and being replaced by cheaper H1-B labor.

    I'm out of rant for now. Discuss amongst yourselves. :)

    • Reality check! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by 0x0d0a (568518)
      The relevance of unions today has been questioned by big business, citing numerous government regulations that work to protect employees from hazards in the workplace, discrimination, work hours, etc. What these government regulations don't protect you from is being treated like shit by companies that cut hours, push for unpaid overtime, cut perks, cut staffing, cut benefits - All while operating profitably.

      The plight of the poor, put-upon IT worker making five times minimum wage with benefits, with his fat ass in a safe office chair instead of a coal mine? Nope, doesn't resonate.

      I've always been anti-union. But that was before the dot-com bubble burst. I was working at an ISP a few months ago. I had a guy with a Masters' degree and two certifications walk in our door looking for a job.

      And how the *fuck* is unionizing going to keep your dot-com parent company going to keep from going under? The problem today is not companies making shitloads of profit and exploiting their workers more (a la coal magnates). The problem is that the *companies* are doing badly. You can't just squeeze the company and get more money from it, and make everything fine. The people at dot-coms, American Airlines, Enron, WorldCom, AOL, etc, are just going to have a rough time of it. There isn't a nice way to say it.

      In Europe, almost all jobs are protected by government regulations or unions. You -can- fire someone for poor job performance, but it requires a review process.

      Nothing like red tape to solve problems! Look and see how many people in Sweden would like to live in the US versus how many people in the US would like to live in Sweden.

      Not the whim of an asshole manager playing office politics.

      Politics will *never* leave the workplace. Even by adding red tape.

      Collective bargaining gives employees power.

      Unions also tend (unless you have a single-company union, formed of the employees at a single company) to be designed purely to put money in the pocket of *another* large, self-interested organization with a deep love for taking money from those who need it -- AFL/CIO.

      Because hospitals are mistreating nurses. Underpaid, overworked, and being replaced by cheaper H1-B labor.

      You want to *unionize* to keep companies from replacing workers with foreign workers and moving jobs overseas?
    • Re:Time to unionize. (Score:3, Informative)

      by Maul (83993)
      The problem with Unions is that they also have negative effects. My understanding primarily comes from Unions in School Districts, but I'm sure these problems exist in other areas.

      One problem is that the Unions in many places make it hard to fire anyone. While many people do lose their jobs for unfair reasons, there are also many people who do not perform well in their job, and should be let go. From my understanding, it is actually quite difficult to fire a teacher if they've been in their positions for a few years, because the Union will "protect" them.

      Another problem: Many Unions have bargained for structured pay raises and promotions based on seniority alone. This is especially the case in school districts. The result is that we see many district workers being lazy or only mainaining the status quo... because the Union makes it difficult to fire them, and they will get a raise after they have worked so many years, and only after they have worked so many years. There is no motivation to do better, because there are no pay raises due to merit.

      Third problem is that the Union often will forcibly collect funds from all employees (funds are automatically taken out of pay), even if the employees do NOT want to be part of the Union. There was actually a complaint about this from several teachers in our local school district who believed that the Union was corrupt, and did not wish to support it. I'm not sure what the end result was, but it was a rather vocal complaint.

      Plus we all know about the various forms of Union corruption out there, many involving organized crime, etc.
  • by Brother Fjordhr (468596) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @10:31AM (#5279189)
    I work as an office equipment repairman (copier tech.). We have been told quite clearly that the company will not pay OT. But we are still to meed the call load and be working (call into the the auto-dispatch) by 07:30 and on the job at 17:00.

    I have been told that to make my stats (required workload) that I need to do what the other techs do and work through lunch. Or, if hungry, to go through a drive-through and eat in my car in-route. That is an hour that they are TELLING me to give them right there.

    On the other end of the day we are to be at a account at 17:00. If any of you have ever watched a copier tech work you would realize the being at work at 17:00 means finishing about 17:30-17:45. That extra time is all unpaid. The theory is that we get comp time but it is pretty clear that requesting comp time would be a bad idea. The companies often reply that summers are slow so we are not logging a full eight hours during those months, as if it is our problem that they cannot come up with a steady workload.

    The management answer is real simple, "If you think you can do better somewhere else then go there." All this for $10usd/hour (and don't even get me going on auto reimbursement). No need to say, "go back to school." I have a B.A. (as do about 1/5 of techs. The number of new hires with degrees is increasing (or should that be,without degrees laid off). I am going back to finish my masters, not so much as that I feel it will improve my situation as for something to do.

    In general we need unions but the unions will not even talk to us. I was part of an effort that tried to interest the unions in copier techs nd the response was that if we were not members of a union then they could (would) do nothing. Having my minor in H.R. I know that there are too many pitfalls for people who try to unionize on their own.

    Basicly it is an exploitive situation that ignores labor law. And yes, I am looking for another job
  • by TheTick (27208) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @10:43AM (#5279300) Homepage Journal

    The Fair Labor Standards Act [dol.gov], Sec. 13(a)(17), added by the Small Business Job Protection Act of 1996, specifically exempts certain computer industry professionsals from overtime requirements. The text of this section is as follows:

    (17) any employee who is a computer systems analyst, computer programmer, software engineer, or other similarly skilled worker, whose primary duty is

    (A) the application of systems analysis techniques and procedures, including consulting with users, to determine hardware, software, or system functional specifications;

    (B) the design, development, documentation, analysis, creation, testing, or modification of computer systems or programs, including prototypes, based on and related to user or system design specifications;
    (C) the design, documentation, testing, creation, or modification of computer programs related to machine operating systems; or
    (D) a combination of duties described in subparagraphs (A), (B), and (C) the performance of which requires the same level of skills, and
    who, in the case of an employee who is compensated on an hourly basis, is compensated at a rate of not less than $27.63 an hour.

    We recently went through the painful process of re-assigning exemption status at the company for which I work. It was discovered that, though there might be cachet with a salary, an hourly wage can be very lucrative. (I'm salaried; no overtime for me.)

My problem lies in reconciling my gross habits with my net income. -- Errol Flynn Any man who has $10,000 left when he dies is a failure. -- Errol Flynn

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