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Mandating medical

Rather, the FLSA merely requires that payroll employees (who are not “exempt” from the overtime requirements of the FLSA) be paid an overtime premium of at least one-half of regular rate of pay for each hour worked over 40 during a work week.

The Department of Labor estimates that about 74 million workers were covered under the FLSA overtime provision in 2000.

2 There is evidence that the required overtime pay premium for these “non-exempt” workers is effective – about 44% of “exempt” workers (i.e., most executives and supervisors, certain administrative and professional employees, and outside salespeople) work longer than 40 hours per week, compared to only about 20% of non-exempt workers.

Workers also reported feeling more fatigued and depressed after working more than eight hours a day (Proctor et al. It is not surprising, then, that accident rates increase during overtime hours (Kogi 1991). Str ess can result in increased blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases, which in some cases can have fatal consequences. S., job stress is estimated to cost industry $150 billion per year in absenteeism, health insurance premiums, diminished productivity, compensation claims, and direct medical costs (Donatelle and Hawkins 1989).

For example, researchers have identified overtime as a factor contributing to safety incidents at nuclear power plants (Baker et al. The Japanese, known for long work hours, even have a word – karoshi – to describe death from overwork (Hayashi et al. Longer work hours can only contribute further to this drain.

Given that overtime can have detrimental effects on workers and their families, mandatory overtime is a serious public policy concern, yet current law does not address it.

The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA), which regulates overtime, currently imposes no limits on overtime hours, nor does it prohibit dismissal or any other sanction for declining overtime work.

by Lonnie Golden and Helene Jorgensen Over the last two decades, American workers have been clocking more and more hours on the job, and they now work more hours than workers in any other industrialized country.

Annual work hours are 4% higher than they were in 1980, amounting to an extra 1 hour and 30 minutes at work per week, on average (ILO 1999).

Furthermore, an employee should be asked to work beyond some legislated upper limit only during exceptional circumstances such as a temporary health or public safety emergency.

Amendment of the FLSA can preserve the right of workers to work long hours if they choose to do so, but ensure workers the right to refuse mandatory overtime.

The need for limits on mandatory overtime In the United States, unlike in most European countries, employment is “at will,” meaning that the employer can dismiss an employee for any reason or for no reason – except gender, race, age, or disability.