There are many misconceptions that people have regarding their status as an employee. This article will attempt to cover a few of the most common misconceptions regarding employees’/ employers’ rights in the State of Wisconsin.
- I am a salaried employee so I am not entitled to overtime.
Just because an employer designates an employee to paid on a salary basis does not mean that the employee is not entitled to be paid for hours worked over 40 hours in a particular week. The real test is what jobs are being performed by that particular employee. The most standard exemption from overtime is if a person is either in an administrative, executive or professional position. The Department of Labor is very conservative in its dealing with whether somebody is exempt from overtime. So just because somebody has a title as an Administrative Assistant, does not necessarily mean that they are exempt from overtime.
- Employees in Wisconsin are entitled to a meal break.
This common misconception is that employees are entitled to have a paid meal break by their employer. In fact, there is no Wisconsin law which requires an employer to provide a meal break to any employee who is 18 years or older. While the State encourages such paid meal break, it is not required under the law. However, if an employee is under the age of 18 an employee is entitled to a meal break if they work 4 hours or more.
- An employee who works for a private company is entitled to free speech rights.
This is another misconception that an employee believes that they can say anything they want about their employer without fear of being fired by that employer. The Free Speech Rights of an employee only come about if the employee is working for a public employer such as the City, County or State. Employers can look at a person’s social media and take job action if they are not happy with the employee comments about various issues. However, if an employee is complaining about certain employer labor practices, this may be protected.
- An employee has more rights after a 90-day probation period ends.
Another misconception is that employees believe they have more rights once they pass a “90-day probation”. The vast majority of all employees are considered At Will Employees and whether they pass a 30, 60, 90 or more day probationary period does not give the employee any more rights than it had from the day it started working for a particular employer. This may be different if you work in a union setting and are under the terms of a Collective Bargaining Agreement, but that is generally not the case for most employees.
- Payment for Holidays.
Another misconception is that employees believe that they have to be paid by an employer for certain holidays such as Thanksgiving or Christmas. An employer is not required to pay anyone for giving them a day off on a holiday. It is within the sole discretion of the employer to determine whether or not such pay should be given.
Employee/Employer issues can be complex and are many times misconceived by the parties in an employment relationship.
You would be best to always check with legal counsel in regard to various issues that may affect your employment status or handling of employee issues to make sure that you properly handle any such issues.
By Thomas J. Kieffer