Is an employee entitled to be paid for all hours worked?

UPDATED: Nov 19, 2012

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Is an employee entitled to be paid for all hours worked?

My wife works a job where she is a part-time employee and is only allowed to clock in 20 hours. However, in some instances they will ask her to work over 20 hours and still only clock in 20. So if she works 30 hours, she only clocks in 20 and then the next week they give her 10 hours off without pay. She is only allowed to work 10 hours and get paid for 10 hours. She can work 40 but only get paid for 30. They justify the working over by giving time off, however that time off is without pay. She may work 40 hours one week and only be able to get paid for 20 hours but is given a week off. It’s not worth it just to be given time off since that time off is without pay. Work 40 hours but only get paid 20, its nonsense. Is this legal?

Asked on November 19, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Missouri


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Assuming your wife is an hourly employee (and not an exempt salaried employee), she must be paid for ALL hours worked (including overtime, if she works more than 40 in a week)--there is no exception, and it does not matter what her hours are supposed to be or what she called (e.g. that she is called part time). So, for example, if she works 30 hours a week, she must be paid for 30 hours. The employer can certainly reduce her hours the next week--so, for example, only have her work 10 hours--to keep their total costs down, but whatever she does work, she must be paid for.

Therefore, your wife may have a case to recover unpaid wages. She could contact the state Department of Labor to file a complaint, or speak with an employment law attorney about possibly suing.

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