Patrick Tay on OT pay for white-collar workers

I had the opportunity to have a chat with Patrick Tay, Director of NTUC’s Legal Services Department and MP for Nee Soon GRC about a post I wrote earlier, where a boutique manager managed to claim full rate OT pay from her employer in spite of what was written in her contract.

He agreed that the lady was due the compensation, and told me of two cases in the past where an entry-level accountant and a lecturer managed to claim OT pay.

The upcoming changes to the Employment Act (effective 1 April 2014), will extend these rights to workers earning under $2,500 a month (although anyone earning over $2,250 will have their OT pay rate calculated based on $2,250). That means a lot more people will also be covered by the Act.

Off hand, I can think of a bunch of designers, junior accountants, folks in retail, F&B and maybe even some legal folks who pull far more than 44 hours a week for less than $2,500 a month.

Even if you have a title with the word “executive” in it, the law still protects you. Many employers like to say that “executives” cannot claim OT, but this is false. Mr Tay said that “If you’re not holding substantial managerial responsibilities, you should be covered by EA.”

That’s good news for a lot of us, as log as everyone knows and follows the law.

The law is one thing, but what to do about your labour rights is yet another. Mr Tay says that the first step would definitely be to talk to your employer about the situation – some of them just aren’t aware of the law. If it is possible to get your employer to play ball with the law, then it’s best for everyone. The next thing then would be to find a way to get your work hours on record so that you have something to base the OT calculations on.

If your employer won’t play ball, you’ll have to decide on whether you want to keep working there. Either way, you’ll want to find some way to prove how many hours you’ve worked each week – timesheets, punch cards, emails, and other records (or even an employment contract showing your minimum working hours). Maybe even the testimony of a colleague or two.

At least with those in hand, you’ll be able to bring your case to MOM, or fight it in court like Ms Monteverde did. If you’re an NTUC member, you could even get some legal help from Patrick Tay and his team.



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