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Missouri workers should be aware of their rights on the job

Missouri workers may not be fully aware of all of their rights on the job. Unfortunately, some companies fail to follow the law when it comes to employee rights in the workplace. Below are some very important rights of which workers should be aware.

-- Government guidelines and not employer whims determine whether workers are eligible for overtime pay. Workers are classified by job categories as either exempt or non-exempt. From a legal standpoint, all non-exempt employees are entitled to overtime pay when working more than 40 hours per week.

-- Workers can't have their pay docked for poor performance on the job. Even if a worker makes a costly error or breaks some expensive equipment, they still must be paid fully for the hours they worked. No provisions are in place to prevent their being fired, however.

-- Employers can't delay paying their employees. There is a short window of time for workers to be paid at the end of each pay period.

-- According to the National Labor Relations Act, company policies that bar employees from discussing salary amounts with their co-workers are violating the law. Even when policies forbid it, employees can't be prevented from talking about their wages with one another.

-- Companies cannot permit employees to work while off the clock. It is against the law to request, require or permit non-exempt employees to work without being paid, and workers may not waive their right. Companies also are not permitted to offer employees comp time rather than paying them overtime.

-- Employee handbooks can be legally binding when they make promises to workers. Statements using "shall" and "will" carry more legal heft than those indicating a company "can" or "may" be responsible for something.

-- The National Labor Relations Act also can't prohibit workers from discussing the working conditions with fellow co-workers, which would inhibit them from organizing should they so choose.

-- It's illegal for companies to pay workers as independent contractors while controlling how, when and where they work. According to the law, if they are treated as employees, they must be offered the benefits workers get, like paying employee's payroll taxes.

Labor disputes can be complicated for workers to resolve on their own. They often require professional legal assistance to get better results.

Source: U.S. News & World Report, "8 Workplace Rights Your Employer Might Not Tell You About" Alison Green, accessed Feb. 20, 2015

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