Overtime Pay for Piecework

 In Employment Law, Overtime Law, Wage Law

Workers paid a Piece Rate are Entitled to Overtime Pay

Federal law requires employers to pay workers overtime for piecework. If you are paid by a piece rate (e.g. by the “piece” or “task completed”) you are entitled still entitled to overtime pay pursuant to federal law. Employers will often try to pay workers a piece rate to avoid paying overtime wages — a common form of wage theft. Despite being unlawful, it is still common. If your employer is paying you “by the piece,” and also telling you that you are not entitled to overtime pay or the minimum wage, your employer is breaking the law.

Although it is unlawful for an employer to pay employees using a piece rate to avoid paying overtime, piecework pay is still common in many industries such as:

  • Oil & Gasoilfield workers are commonly illegally paid a day rate
  • Construction and homebuilding where a worker are sometimes illegally paid a flat rate for each room painted
  • Housekeeping where paid is per room cleaned
  • Assembly businesses where a worker might be per each kitchen cabinet or piece of furniture assembled
  • Trade fixture outsourcing where a worker might be paid for each completed store rack or display
  • Textiles and jewelry making where a worker is paid per finished piece

If you are paid by the piece but are not receiving the minimum wage or overtime, call us here at Herrmann Law. We offer legal representation for employees all across the country. We are also pro-employee litigators. Call us at (817) 479-9229.

Overtime Pay Recovered for Workers Paid a Piece Rate

An employee is entitled to recover significant damages where an employer has failed to pay overtime wages as required by federal law. This includes where an employer uses a piecework payment scheme. As a case in point, a Utah tile installation company — C&E Stone Masonry LLC – recently paid more than $602,000 for failing to pay their tile installers overtime. The employer claimed that it “mistakenly” thought that paying by a piece rate meant that the tile installers were not entitled to overtime pay. However, that is NOT the law – ignorance of the law is not a defense, especially when vulnerable workers are denied the wages they have rightfully earned.

Importantly, if you are paid by the piece and are paid overtime, your employer could still be underpaying you — that is, cheating you — by NOT PAYING THE CORRECT AMOUNT of overtime. First, understand that an employer MUST keep track of hours worked. If your employer is NOT keeping track of your hours worked, that is an enormous red flag that your employer is breaking the law. Second, based on tracking your hours, your employer must make a proper calculation of your overtime pay if you work more than 40 hours in a given workweek. Overtime is calculated on the full amount of work/pay, not just on those first 40 hours. See our post about calculating overtime. Let’s take an example. Assume a pure-piecework payment schedule of $15 per piece assembling furniture. For an easy example, let’s assume the worker assembles one piece per hour and works 50 hours. That is $15 per hour and the overtime is easy to calculate. The extra 10 hours will entitle the worker to 1.5 x $15 for those extra hours above 40 hours.

But, what if the worker is extra productive during some hours and assembles two pieces of furniture? If this happens, the overtime rate will increase. Note that overtime rate is NOT based on how many pieces of furniture are assembled during the overtime hours, but rather the total amount of pay divided by the total hours worked (or, under some State laws, divided by 40).

Call the Employee Rights Attorneys at Herrmann Law Today

For more information or if you have questions about overtime pay, call the Employee Rights attorneys at Herrmann Law. We are proven, experienced, employee-focused attorneys representing workers across the United States in all types of workplace disputes. Use our Online Contact page or call us at (817) 479-9229. We are more than just a law firm for employees – we are an employee’s fiercest advocate, equipping employees with the legal representation needed to achieve the best result possible.

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