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Should you “clock in” after 40 hours?

No job is only an exchange of money for work. Each workplace becomes a little culture with its own system of rewards and risks.

That’s why it’s sometimes easy to feel tempted or pressured to work “off the clock,” to “do a little extra” or stay a while “to help out.”

Working for your employer without pay is almost always an illegal situation, no matter if you do it because of pressure from your boss or coworkers or because you simply want to.

Some people don’t mind working off the clock occasionally.

But besides being illegal, many of their coworkers may not have such an open schedule. Everyone who puts in time without “clocking in” makes it harder for those who don't have a choice.

Massachusetts overtime basics

The laws governing overtime can be a bit complicated. Let’s start simple.

For most jobs in Massachusetts, if you’re paid by the hour, you can work 40 hours per week at your regular rate. If you work any longer than 40 hours, you must be paid at least 1.5 times your rate for all additional time.

And you may already be working more hours than you think. Your clocked time should include attending meetings or training sessions before or after your shift, working through meal breaks and doing prep or cleanup work.

Advanced overtime

Massachusetts and the federal government have different overtime laws. Where those laws conflict, the law that’s better for you applies to you.

For example, by state law the overtime rules above don’t apply to many restaurant, motel and hotel workers, or to fisherman, agricultural workers and truck drivers.

But thanks to federal overtime rules, some of these employees not covered by Massachusetts rules still need to be paid their time and a half.

The laws governing your, your family’s and your coworkers’ rights might be interesting to read. It may surprise you that federal law entitles any restaurant employee who handles credit cards to overtime pay.

And in Massachusetts, retailers employing seven or more people including the owner must pay the time-and-a-half rate for work done on Sundays and some holidays.

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