Since the plumbing industry typically revolves around responding to emergency situations like broken pipes or clogged drains, plumbers often work outside of the typical nine-to-five work day.
This results in many plumbers being paid on a commission or piece-rate basis. Unfortunately, as the Houston fair overtime lawyers in our office have seen, plumbers are also often at the mercy of unfair wage practices that prevent them from receiving the overtime that they are entitled to.
Piece-rate pay and commission-based wages are not illegal in the plumbing industry, as long as the plumber is being fairly treated under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The FLSA has established guidelines for determining piece-rate pay, and employers are required to make sure that all guidelines are met before paying those rate.
Factors like allotting time for fatigue or delay, calculating the typical amount of time it will take to complete the piece of work, and outlining the exact job description all go into the equation.
The employer must also determine the regular rate of pay by adding together the total earnings for the workweek (including bonuses or hourly wages for any other hours worked) and then dividing that by the number of hours worked that week. If the plumber worked more than 40 hours that week, then he or she is entitled to one and a half times that regular rate of pay for those hours over 40.
If the plumber is paid on commission, the employer must also determine the regular rate of pay, which can be done by adding any hourly wage plus any commissions earned, and dividing that total by the number of hours worked. Plumbers often run into the problem of being paid overtime at one and a half times the straight hourly rate - instead they should be paid one and a half times the regular rate of pay. An example would be Plumber X who is paid $10 per hour, plus $100 for every job he performs. Assume that Plumber X works 44 hours in one week, performing 10 jobs.
The incorrect calculation would be:
$10 x 40 hours = $400
1.5 x $10 x 4 hours of overtime = $60
10 jobs x $100 = $1000
Instead, the plumber should be paid the following way:
$10 x 40 hours = $400
(10 jobs x $100) + ($10 x $40 hours) = $1400
$1400 / 40 hours = $35 regular rate of pay
$35 x 4 hours of overtime = $140
In this situation, if the plumber's overtime was calculated incorrectly, he missed out on an additional $80 on his paycheck!
If you are a plumber whose overtime is being calculated incorrectly, you could be missing out on thousands of dollars each year, and may be entitled to back wages. Contact a Texas fair overtime attorney from Kennedy Hodges, LLP for your free copy of The Ten Biggest Mistakes That Can Hurt Your Wage and Overtime Claim by calling 888.449.2068. Or fill out this online form to schedule your free case evaluation.