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MASS - "Retail Workers' Hours" Questions

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  • MASS - "Retail Workers' Hours" Questions

    I have some questions regarding hourly/non-salaried retail workers in Massachusetts.

    1. The store I work in is quite busy and is a nationally recognized chain. We're open between 10am and 11pm on weekdays and 10am to midnight on weekends. During the days we are only allowed to staff one person, alone, often until 5 or 6pm. Is this legal, as in "are there minumum-staffing regulations reagrding business, and if so are they based on location, store size, type of business, average monetary intake (etc)?" Or... if there are minimum staffing regulations, would they be the same across-the-board for all businesses?

    2. At said store, the workload during the day can often be too much for one person to handle, and then the night crew is expected to take care of it all. The issue here is, we often have to stay late into the evening/morning (past midnight) to get it done to a satisfactory level, or else it rolls over to the next day snowballing into a sizable work overload. Some of us have no issue working into the evening occassionally to get things done, but the store District and Regional Management Team thinks we're being payed "too many hours" in overtime, so now they're limiting us to a new "must leave the store one hour after the doors close" policy in order to limit out overtime -- adding to which they will now give us disciplinary write-ups if we are found working on-the-clock more than an hour after we close the store to the public each night. If we get three write-ups, we are threatened with Termination. Is this considered legally approvable?

    3. Regarding the above: I was advised "unofficially" (not in writing, but in conversation) by my Manager that "there will be times where we just have to bite the bullet and work late into the evening -- past store closing -- without being paid for it," adding that he spends several hours at the store longer than he should and suggesting that if he does it, we all can do it. But he's a salaried manager, and we are not. It's my understanding that this cannot happen to the hourly workers and that every hour worked must be a paid hour and that it would be illegal to expect/request employees to work for free. Is this correct?

    4. Lastly, this Manager is often overwhelmed himself with the workload at the store and often has his sons and their friends come over and help Him do his work, unpaid and not employed by the company. These are hours that are being stolen from those of us who are actual, paid employees of the store -- that is, if the company didn't have issues with staffing our store with enough personnel or paying proper overtime. I'm sure there are Company Regulations about unpaid workers in the store, but are there legal ramifications as well?

    Thank you for your time.

  • #2
    1.) No, there are no minimum staffing requirements.

    2.) Yes. Your employer is entitled to limit overtime and to discipline up to and including termination those who do not comply.

    3.) You are correct. If you are paid on a non-exempt basis, which with only very rare exceptions which do not apply here means hourly, you must be paid for all the time you work.

    4.) Yes; however, it is the employees who are working unpaid who have the legal recourse; not the employees who think they ought to be getting those hours.
    The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

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