2 ways to pay fairly in veterinary practice

2 ways to pay fairly in veterinary practice

Q. Illinois law states that I receive time-and-a-half for overtime, which is more than 40 hours in a work week. But when I work 35 hours one week, then 45 hours the next week, my boss doesn't pay me overtime because it balances out to 80 hours in a pay period. What's right, and what should I do?
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May 01, 2013
By dvm360.com staff

Q. Illinois law states that I receive time-and-a-half for overtime, which is more than 40 hours in a work week. But when I work 35 hours one week, then 45 hours the next week, my boss doesn't pay me overtime because it balances out to 80 hours in a pay period. What's right, and what should I do?

This is not just Illinois law but federal law, says Sheila Grosdidier, RVT, MCP, PHR, and partner at VMC Inc. in Evergreen, Colo.

"You are on very solid ground. Try the same way you would approach a client who has been misinformed or is incorrect," Grosdidier says. "Determine first if your boss will respond better to the facts or to the relationship approach."

Just the facts, Jack

If you're taking the facts approach, Grosdidier recommends you start the conversation like this:

You: "Dr. Jones, I respect what you have said regarding how overtime is calculated week to week here at the practice. While I was having some tax information reviewed by an accountant, there was a discussion about wage calculation, and how we calculate overtime at the practice came up. The accountant suggested that I share this with you. It concerned me that there are fines involved if the state or federal authorities find that regulations weren't followed. According to the accountant, laws change on occasion, and I wanted to bring it to your attention. We're a team here, working for the best of the practice."

This isn't a personal attack, it's informational. Make sure you pick a good time and speak about it privately, says Grosdidier.

Appeal to your relationship

If you need to take a more emotional approach, Grosdidier says start with your feelings. Focus on the problem, not on what your boss has done in the past. Try out this script:

You: "I feel I need to mention this. While a friend who's an accountant was helping me with my taxes, she mentioned that my overtime isn't being calculated in alignment with the state and federal laws. It concerned me, and I wanted to share it with you. There are fines involved if the state or federal authorities find that the regulations weren't followed. According to the accountant, laws change on occasion, and I wanted to bring it to your attention. We're a team here, working for the best of the practice."

Remember to use a non-threatening manner, Grosdidier says. Your goal is to help the practice owner or manager to see you as providing an answer in a nonaccusatory manner. If they check this out on their own, they will learn they are potentially responsible for back wages and at the very least should immediately fix their problem.

You have the right to be assertive, yet respectful. Find more information about wage regulations on the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division at http://www.dol.gov/whd/. The agency oversees hourly employment and offers handy tools for employers and employees. You'll also find links to state requirements.

If these conversations don't fix the problem, don't give up. You deserve to be paid correctly.