For several years, the U.S Department of Labor’s Wage and Hours Division has conducted investigations into underpayment of workers in the field of oil and gas. Central to the investigations was the pre-shift relief meetings. These pre-shift meetings are mandatory for employees and involve an information exchange between the previous shifts employee and the employee coming onto the next.

The investigation found that these meetings, which often last 15 minutes or longer, were not being recorded on the hourly workers’ time cards. This unaccounted time constitutes as unpaid overtime the employee is being required to perform. The investigation resulted in a judgement against Chevron product companies and its subsidies in the amount of $1.5 million in back overtime wages to be paid to approximately 750 employees. The investigation also found that company had performed bookkeeping violations by failing to report the additional time for these meetings.

The Wage and Hours Division says that it will continue to investigate the oil and gas industries for irregularities in wages to ensure wage compliance. The department feels that the oil and gas industry employees can often be shorted based on the business models followed by many of the major energy companies.

This post will discuss some of your rights under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which was created to ensure fair pay for all workers.

Number of Hours Worked

The FLSA defines the numbers of hours worked as the amount of time you are required to be on company premises or at a specific job site related to your work responsibilities or company demands. It is important to remember that if you are required to participate in meetings or training, before or after your scheduled shift, these hours should be recorded on your time card. An employer should not ask you to perform your duties before or after you have punched out.

Overtime Pay Rates

If you are an hourly paid employee and work beyond the standard 40 hour work week, your company is required to compensate you at a minimum of one and a half times your normal hourly pay rate. You will want to remember that if you are required to be at work, even if it is for time outside of your regular duties, anything exceeding 40 hours should be paid at your company’s posted overtime wage.

Company Record Keeping

Part of this regulation requires your employer to post labor laws, which detail minimum wage, overtime, and other employee rights information in a place visible to all employees. Additionally your company is required to maintain an accurate record of all employee hours worked at both regular and overtime rates. You should be able to request reports from your payroll or human resources department in the event of a suspected discrepancy. Even if you average the same pay each week, it is important to monitor your pay stubs to determine any hour discrepancies as soon as they are noticed.

As an employee, you have a right to be paid a fair wage for all hours that you have worked for the company. This includes any meeting and planning time that may be required before or after your scheduled shift. Knowing your rights and enforcing your concerns can help to prevent the type of widespread underpayment that has been exposed in the case of the Chevron company subsidiaries. Fair pay for a hard day’s work.