Overtime Pay and Working From Home During Covid-19

August 31, 2020
Jay Stafford

employee rights handbook with pen

The coronavirus pandemic has swept a healthcare crisis and economic downturn across the country, leaving devastation and uncertainty in its wake. The pandemic has also changed life as we know it for many people, thanks to stay-at-home orders and school and business shutdowns.

For many people who work for a living, Covid-19 has forced them to convert a portion of their home into a temporary office. Although the massive shift to working from home is a significant change for many of those employees, our Maryland employment lawyer wants you to understand that you still have the same set of basic rights under state and federal laws — even if you are punching in from home in your pajamas.

Those rights include protections against discrimination, harassment and retaliation on the job, as well as the ability to take certain family and medical leave time in some situations. They also include the right to be paid for all of the time that you work.

The federal Labor Department is encouraging employers in Maryland and around the country to ensure that employees working from home are getting paid for all of their time on the job. The DOL recently reminded employers of this obligation and encouraged them to develop appropriate systems to track the time that workers spend on the job accurately.

“An employer is required to pay its employees for all hours worked, including work not requested but suffered or permitted, including work performed at home,” DOL Wage and Hour Administrator Cheryl Stanton said in an August 24 memo. “If the employer knows or has reason to believe that work is being performed, the time must be counted as hours worked.”

Employees must understand these rights and the options that they have to ensure they are appropriately paid for all of their time. Maryland employment lawyer Jamaal “Jay” W. Stafford has significant experience helping people across the state recover unpaid wages in court and through negotiated settlements. Mr. Stafford understands the full array of employer obligations under state and federal laws and knows how to build the strongest possible cases for the people that he represents.

State and Federal Wage Laws

Maryland law requires employers to pay their employees a minimum wage of at least $10.10 per hour for every hour worked. 

The state’s Wage and Hour Law also entitles certain employees to overtime pay at a rate of 1.5 times their standard rate for every hour logged beyond 40 on the job each week. That is similar to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, which also obligates many employers to pay overtime rates for all hours beyond 40 per week.

Generally, anyone who makes less than $35,568 per year – or $684 per week – is automatically eligible for overtime pay. People who make more than this amount may also be eligible, depending on the situation. 

An employees’ company or another employer must also be covered by the state and/or federal laws.

What is ‘Work’ Time?

Questions often arise over what kind of tasks constitute “work” under the laws, especially for employees who are doing their jobs from home. 

Typically, an employee must be paid for all of the time that his or her employer forces the employee to be at work. That includes any prep work required at the beginning of a shift or cleanup duties at the end of a shift. Training and travel from one work site to another is also compensable time.

The shift to working from home and the increasing use of smartphones to check email and communicate with colleagues, business partners and customers can raise several complicated questions about compensable time. That is one reason that it is vital to consult a seasoned wage and hour attorney.

Speak with a Maryland Employment Lawyer

If you have questions about your overtime pay rights or are locked in a dispute with your employer over wages and hours, it is crucial to have a seasoned attorney in your corner.

Maryland employment lawyer J.W. Stafford helps people get paid for the time they work. The Law Firm of J.W. Stafford understands how important it is for people and their families to be paid accurately and knows how stressful it can be to haggle with an employer that is trying to shortchange workers. The attorneys at the Law Firm of J.W. Stafford work aggressively to ensure that employers are held fully accountable.

To learn more about your workplace rights, whether under federal or Maryland law, it’s a good idea to speak with a Maryland employment lawyer at the Law Firm of J.W. Stafford. Call us at 410-514-6099 or contact us online.