Sunday, April 11, 2010

Pay Doesn't Fix Overwork

The FLSA OT Exemption No Longer Computes!

When the DOL enacted the FLSA back in 1938 there were a couple of things that could not have been taken into account. The whole basis for the overtime exemption was that certain employees were educated, trained, and responsible at a level that afforded a certain flexibility in how they get their job done. Generally the argument was that sometimes those professionals would work 40 hours a week, sometimes they would work 45, and sometimes they would work 35. Whatever it was, though, the expectation was that their annual salary should take into account the level of effort – and the time on task – required by the role.

I would say that those that many employees in such situations are paid a salary and are not paid for exact hours of work. Work has changed. I am a bit surprised we haven't seen more people appreciate the huge salaries many in the USA get given the current economy but I guess that is a bit foolish. We tend to compare our situation to anyone that has it better than us and say it is unfair we don't have it better. People would be a lot better off looking at all those that have it worse of than they do for no good reason and be thankful for what they have.

At the same time I agree many organizations have reduced staff and piled too many responsibilities on those that are left. That is an issue to manage. But I don't see it as a pay issue but as a well being issue. The agile software development community has a great view "The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely." That is a key to better managed organizations.

Pay is important but it is separate from effective managing of overwork. It isn't good to overwork and then just pay more money and think you solved the problem. There does seem to be a problem of people having jobs that are too much. Part of which is due to always being on call. I think more than that though is the issue of policies and management that just makes the workplace much more annoying that it has to be. We need to improve systems so work is more enjoyable and sustainable.

Also I think the FSLA assumed many would be working well over 40 hours a week on average. I think that is fine. what is a sustainable pace will vary and depend on the work.

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