Employment Law/Employees who want/insist on volunteering
Expert: Margaret M. deMarteleire - 9/20/2013
Question Can an employee who works 40 hours per week VOLUNTARILY volunteer to do additional work of personal interest to her in off-hours? Several employees want to research and post on our organization's Facebook page in their off-work time because they have such a personal and passionate interest in the topics. We have told them that when we know an employee is performing a work-related task in off-work hours (such as posting information on our Facebook page during off-work hours that are clearly documented with date and time of posting)that we must compensate them, and if they continue to do so even though we've told them not to and they do so without our permission to work extra hours, this will be insubordination. They asked if they could do so if they signed a waiver saying they are volunteering and want no compensation and won't sue us. Is this legal or allowable and if so, is there a form we can use to be held harmless and not subject to violation of the wage and hour law? Thank you!
Answer Kathy - Employees cannot waive their rights under any of the employment laws, even if they want to do so. The fear is that employees will be coerced into "voluntarily" doing more than they are compensated for, so the law draws a bright line - if it is for the benefit of the employer, it must be compensated. No agreement saying otherwise would be recognized by a court or by the Department of Labor. Sorry, it is a non-starter, unless the employees are salaried exempt, in which case they can work as long as they like without receiving additional compensation.
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Thank you very much! This is exactly what I wanted to know. You were most helpful!