Firms everywhere are trying to keep expenses down. For secretaries and administrative assistants at Alston & Bird, this means that overtime is going to be a lot harder to come by. Last week, A&B informed its secretaries of changes in the firm’s overtime policy:
As you know, from time to time we review our HR policies and practices to determine if they continue to meet the needs of the firm and our employees. In our continuing effort to hold the line on expenses and minimize our overtime costs, the firm has made the decision to revise our overtime policy for our professional staff, secretaries, and paralegals. After review of our current policy, we found that there were two areas that were outdated and not consistent with what the law allows and what other professional service firms are doing. As a result, we have made two changes to our policy.
Alston & Bird just happened to figure out that its overtime policy was inconsistent with the law? Well, I’m glad the firm — the law firm — is clearing that up.
We’ll take a look at the legal inconsistency after the jump.
A close reading reveals that Alston’s overtime police isn’t “inconsistent” with anything:
The second change relates to when overtime pay begins. The U.S. Department of Labor requires that employers pay overtime after 40 hours worked. The firm has always been more generous and paid overtime after 37.5 hours/week (35 hours/week in New York).
All Offices (Outside of CA):
Effective September 28, 2009, the firm will not pay overtime until after 40 hours/week. Any time worked between 37.5 hours/week (35.0 hours/week in NYC) and 40 hours will be paid at straight time. In addition, any time worked over 37.5 hours (35.0 hours in NYC) must be approved as described above.
Effective September 28, 2009, the firm will not pay overtime until after 40 hours/week or 8 hours a day. Any time worked between 37.5 hours/week or 7.5 hours/day and 40 hours or 8.0 hours/day will be paid at straight time. In addition, any time worked over 37.5 hours or 7.5 hours/day in CA must be approved as described above.
Just to be clear, the Department of Labor is not forcing A&B to change its overtime policy. Instead, A&B is just deciding to be less generous than it has been in the past. It is totally their call.
It’s probably fair to make it more difficult for secretaries to get overtime. We are in the middle of the Great Recession, after all. But it’s not like Alston & Bird’s previous overtime policy ran afoul of the law. The firm just wants to make another cutback.
Earlier: Deferral Extension Season: Alston & Bird Make Indefinite Deferral