Overtime Question & Answers

  1. If I tell my non-exempt employee that she cannot work overtime and she does anyway because she is so dedicated, do I have to pay her? How do I get her to stop?
  2. If my nonexempt employee is a club sponsor, do I have to pay her for the hours she works on the weekend at a fundraiser? What if she volunteers?
  3. I have an hourly worker whom I told I would pay for only 5 hours of overtime a week for her to work with cheerleaders. As a result, she only recorded 5 hours of overtime but actually worked many more. How do I go back and document the extra hours?
  4. During the school year the paraprofessional staff assists on a regular, volunteer basis with after school events - dances, band concerts, choral recitals, plays, awards banquets, shows, parades, the prom, etc, etc, without expectation of payment. They would like to continue doing so. As one staff member said "You mean I can be prevented from helping my school and my kids because of money I don't want to begin with? Do you have to pay us if we just want to volunteer?"
  5. Our school has a Teacher's Aide who serves as faculty sponsor of a student group. No stipend is paid or overtime expected for the time she puts in after school and on weekends with the students. Weekend activities are primarily community service projects. When informed that my recommendation to the Principal (based solely on lack of funding to pay the overtime) would be to replace her as sponsor she also asked that I see if she could continue to be sponsor if she did so as a volunteer.
  6. My staff completes time sheets daily, but I notice that the time that they are entering is always the same which isn't accurate. Does this present a problem?
  7. How can I be responsible for my clerk's working hours when she is not where I can physically see her arrival and departure?
  8. Why can't I grant compensatory time off in lieu of paying overtime?
  9. One of my teacher aides frequently takes home school materials to cut out for the teacher's bulletin board. Her teacher is aware and supportive of this arrangement because there is no time during school hours to do this work. Is this aide entitled to overtime even though the aide is working unsupervised and at home?
  10. My secretary often eats at her desk over the lunch hour in order to cover the phones. Does her lunch hour count toward the forty hour work week because she's answering the phone?
  11. I have a non-exempt employee who arrives at work thirty minutes early to avoid traffic. Can she sign-in at 7:30 a.m. even though her scheduled workday begins at 8 a.m.?
  12. There have been occasions where I asked my non-exempt employee to wait around after his normal work day until he received a package or document. Do I have to pay overtime for this waiting time? If he delivers the package to my home, do I have to pay him for his travel time?
  13. If a non-exempt employee works beyond a 40 hour week can the pre-approved overtime occur before and after the normal work day and on the weekend.
  14. What if the department head isn't available to pre-approve necessary overtime and there's no designated approver in his absence?
  15. Can it really be true that a federal law restricts employees from volunteering?
  16. Do restrictions on volunteering apply to all employees?
  17. Why does the law limit a classified employee's ability to perform services on a volunteer basis?
  18. Can classified employees of the District ever volunteer at school?
  19. Is the A any different if an employee works at one campus but wants to volunteer at another campus?
  20. How do we know whether the volunteered services are "similar" to those the employee performs during the regular work day?
  21. How does this work in practice?
  22. What if an employee really wants to volunteer his or her time, does not want payment for the extra time, and would be performing the same type of duties he or she performs during the regular work day?
  23. Some of our employees have children who attend school in the district and want to volunteer as parents? What then?
  24. Can a principal ask employees to volunteer?
  25. What do we do if we have even more Questions?

If I tell my non-exempt employee that she cannot work overtime and she does anyway because she is so dedicated, do I have to pay her? How do I get her to stop?

Yes, you have to pay her for all hours worked over forty hours at the rate of time and a half her regular rate of pay. An employee who does not follow your directive to stop working overtime without your approval is subject to disciplinary procedures.

As the work location supervisor, you are responsible for determining the hours this employee works. Insure that all employees are informed of the overtime policy, so that there is no misunderstanding. This will reset your employee's knowledge of your expectations if different from previous practices.

If my nonexempt employee is a club sponsor, do I have to pay her for the hours she works on the weekend at a fundraiser? What if she volunteers?

Yes, you have to pay non-exempt employees for all hours worked. When the hours worked are more than forty in a work week, you have to pay her at the overtime rate. HISD does permit employees to volunteer as a parent if the volunteer activity includes his/her child.

I have an hourly worker whom I told I would pay for only 5 hours of overtime a week for her to work with cheerleaders. As a result, she only recorded 5 hours of overtime but actually worked many more. How do I go back and document the extra hours?

The employee and the work location supervisor should agree on the hours worked in previous pay periods and submit a late time report. Instruct the employee to complete accurate time sheets in accordance with HISD's policy or she will be subject to disciplinary actions. As the work location supervisor who is approving time reporting, you are ultimately responsible for the data integrity of those records. On a go forward basis, insure that all hours worked are recorded and hours over forty in a work week will be paid at time and a half.

During the school year the paraprofessional staff assists on a regular, volunteer basis with after school events - dances, band concerts, choral recitals, plays, awards banquets, shows, parades, the prom, etc, etc, without expectation of payment. They would like to continue doing so. As one staff member said "You mean I can be prevented from helping my school and my kids because of money I don't want to begin with? Do you have to pay us if we just want to volunteer?"

Yes, you have to pay employees for all hours worked even though the employee volunteered. HISD does permit employees to volunteer as a parent if the volunteer activity includes his/her child. Under no circumstances may a work location supervisor direct an employee to volunteer for duty without pay.

Our school has a Teacher's Aide who serves as faculty sponsor of a student group. No stipend is paid or overtime expected for the time she puts in after school and on weekends with the students. Weekend activities are primarily community service projects. When informed that my recommendation to the Principal (based solely on lack of funding to pay the overtime) would be to replace her as sponsor she also asked that I see if she could continue to be sponsor if she did so as a volunteer.

You were correct is recommending that the teacher aide be replaced if overtime funding was not available. HISD does permit employees to volunteer as a parent if the volunteer activity includes his/her child. Under no circumstances may a work location supervisor direct an employee to volunteer for duty without pay.

"Department of Labor will not assert FLSA violations for time spent by public school employees volunteering without pay in their own child's classroom or related educational activities only." (Bracewell and Patterson)

My staff completes time sheets daily, but I notice that the time that they are entering is always the same which isn't accurate. Does this present a problem?

Yes. Time sheets are more than a statement of scheduled hours. Time sheets must accurately reflect hours accurately worked.

How can I be responsible for my clerk's working hours when she is not where I can physically see her arrival and departure?

By federal law, you are responsible for compensating non-exempt employees for all hours worked. You may also be personally liable for damages if failure to comply with FLSA is found through litigation.

Federal regulations state:

"It is the duty of management to exercise its control and see that work is not performed if it does not want it to be performed. It cannot sit back and accept the benefits without compensation for them. The mere promulgation of a rule against such work is not enough. Management has the power to enforce the rule and must make every effort to do so."

Why can't I grant compensatory time off in lieu of paying overtime?

HISD does permit the use of compensatory time in lieu of overtime for non-exempt employees if the employee agrees in advance to a compensatory time arrangement. Overtime pay is the rule; compensatory time is the exception but only when the employee agreed before the time was worked.

One of my teacher aides frequently takes home school materials to cut out for the teacher's bulletin board. Her teacher is aware and supportive of this arrangement because there is no time during school hours to do this work. Is this aide entitled to overtime even though the aide is working unsupervised and at home?

Yes. Non-exempt employees are paid for all time worked.

The aide is performing additional duties as part of her job and is entitled to claim those hours worked at home as overtime if all hours worked that week exceed forty. A work location supervisor may prohibit non-exempt employees from working at home.

My secretary often eats at her desk over the lunch hour in order to cover the phones. Does her lunch hour count toward the forty hour work week because she's answering the phone?

Yes. Because this secretary is performing her job duties during the hour designated as her lunch hour, she is entitled to count that hour toward the forty hour work week.

I have a non-exempt employee who arrives at work thirty minutes early to avoid traffic. Can she sign-in at 7:30 a.m. even though her scheduled workday begins at 8 a.m.?

No. The official time sheet used for recording hours worked for payroll purposes must accurately reflect all hours worked

There have been occasions where I asked my non-exempt employee to wait around after his normal work day until he received a package or document. Do I have to pay overtime for this waiting time? If he delivers the package to my home, do I have to pay him for his travel time?

Yes, the waiting time as described is time worked and must be paid. If his hours for the week exceed forty hours, then overtime will be paid. The employee is still "working" if he has to deliver the package to your home or other location.

If a non-exempt employee works beyond a 40 hour week can the pre-approved overtime occur before and after the normal work day and on the weekend.

Yes, all hours worked will count toward the 40 hour work week even if it's before or after the workday or on weekends. Once 40 hours are reached, overtime must be paid for all additional hours regardless of when the time is worked.

What if the department head isn't available to pre-approve necessary overtime and there's no designated approver in his absence?

Work location supervisors are the persons responsible for approving overtime.

                               

School Employees as Volunteers: The Basics

Public schools value their volunteers, most of whom are parents or members of the community, but some may be employees. Employees can volunteer for the school district in which they work, but federal labor laws may place some limitations on the extent to which we may allow employee volunteerism. Accordingly, we have prepared the following guidelines, in an effort to make administrators aware of the issue and help them manage individual situations if they arise.

Can it really be true that a federal law restricts employees from volunteering?

Yes, it really is true. It is the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the same law that requires payment of minimum wage and overtime for certain employees.

Do restrictions on volunteering apply to all employees?

No. Professional employees and others who are "exempt" under the FLSA can volunteer for the district as much as they want without triggering any overtime concerns. However, classified personnel, such as bus drivers, many secretaries, custodians, and other "nonexempt" employees may, by volunteering, become entitled to overtime pay.

Why does the law limit a classified employee's ability to perform services on a volunteer basis?

The FLSA was enacted for the primary purpose of protecting employees and providing them with certain rights. The prohibition on volunteering grew from the concern that employers could-whether intentionally or not-require employees to perform extra duties-in excess of the 40-hour-a-week maximum and thus evade the overtime laws. When an employee does agree or offer to work on a volunteer basis, therefore, we must proceed very cautiously.

Can classified employees of the District ever volunteer at school?

The general rule is this: an employee may be allowed to volunteer if the volunteered services are not similar to the work for which he or she is regularly employed. In addition, an employee may volunteer to a parent-teacher organization if the organization is a private organization (i.e., affiliated with, but independent from, the district).

Is the A any different if an employee works at one campus but wants to volunteer at another campus?

Not if both campuses are in our school district. If the employee works for this District but wishes to volunteer for some other entity, he or she may do so without prompting a concern under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

How do we know whether the volunteered services are "similar" to those the employee performs during the regular work day?

Review the duties for which the employee is compensated, and then find out details about the volunteer activities. The employee's job description may be helpful in this regard. If the volunteer work would be something the employee would likely do during the regular scope of duties, then it may be "similar" and therefore pose a problem under federal labor laws.

How does this work in practice? A few examples may help.

  • A bus driver could volunteer at the concessions stand at a school carnival, but could not volunteer to drive a bus on a school field trip. (The driver would, under the law, have to be paid for the driving duties, because they are similar to the work for which he or she is regularly employed.)
  • A secretary could volunteer to help decorate the gym for a dance or work on the school's float for a parade, but she could not "volunteer" to type up or copy flyers for the parade.
  • Food service workers could take tickets at a basketball game, but having them sell sodas in the concession stand might be similar work for which we would have to pay the employees.

What if an employee really wants to volunteer his or her time, does not want payment for the extra time, and would be performing the same type of duties he or she performs during the regular work day?

Legally, we would still be required to pay that employee for the additional hours worked, and if those hours total more than 40 in a work week, the employee would be entitled to overtime pay.

Some of our employees have children who attend school in the district and want to volunteer as parents? What then?

If the employee's child is involved in a particular activity, and the employee-as a parent-wants to volunteer, the restriction on volunteering would not apply.

Can a principal ask employees to volunteer?

Yes, if the principal is truly asking, and employees can freely choose not to volunteer, without fear of repercussion. As employers, we must be sure that there is no coercion or pressure on the employee to provide additional services.

Although a principal asks for volunteers and a non-exempt employee agrees to volunteer, it still may not be allowed if the volunteer assignment is similar to the employees regular, paid assignment.

What do we do if we have even more Questions?

If you have a specific questions and have any hesitation about whether a particular employee may volunteer and incur no overtime obligation, please contact HR immediately. We certainly need volunteers in our schools, and do not want to discourage employees from helping out, but at the same time, compliance with federal law is essential.