Overtime could be gift
Q: I was assigned to work on a special project for several weeks, and my boss generously paid me for an extra 7.5 hours a day to get my regular work done even though I didn’t always work the full 7.5 hours. That resulted in a lot of overtime for me, since I was an hourly worker. During the holidays, however, I had two days off, and I didn’t get the extra 7.5 hours for those days. I had thought the paid time off would figure into my overtime calculations. But they didn’t, and I was paid more straight time than I expected. Was this both cheap and illegal on my company’s part?
A: You are staring that proverbial gift horse in the mouth.
Your company paid you for an extra 7.5 hours each day even when you didn’t work that long. So it gave you more than the law required. As for the overtime, your employer hewed to the letter of the law: Paid time off doesn’t have to be included in the count toward overtime. That’s because overtime, which kicks in after 40 hours in a workweek, is based on hours worked, not hours granted as part of a benefit.
— Carrie Mason-Draffen, Newsday
Family leave law turns 20
In Americans’ struggle to balance family lives and work lives, one law has made a giant difference for 35 million other American workers — the Family Medical Leave Act.
This month, the Family Medical Leave Act celebrates its 20th year. It’s been a godsend for those who want time to bond with a newborn, care for an aging parent or deal with a health emergency without the fear of losing a jobs.
But two decades after President Bill Clinton signed the act into law, advocates say they still have unfinished business.
“It was meant to be a first step toward a family-friendly American workplace. But it is 20 years and we haven’t gotten to the second step,” said Judith Lichtman, senior adviser to the National Partnership for Women & Families and an original advocate for passage of the Family Medical Leave Act.
The act doesn’t guarantee wages while workers are on leave, a component advocates had planned as a second step. According to a Department of Labor study, 78 percent of workers who needed unpaid leave did not use it because they could not afford it.
— Cindy Krischer Goodman, Miami Herald
Dealing with procrastination
Q: I’m a procrastinator, and it causes some problems. While I almost always get things done on time, I know it causes a lot of unnecessary stress. What can I do to break this habit?
A: I’ll encourage you to focus on ways to move toward new actions rather than assessment of the factors that hold you back. Take small steps to get started while you seek ways to build more momentum.
Think about why you’d like to change. Make a list of specific benefits that you’d see if you can break the procrastination habit. Consider effects on your stress level, your reputation, even minor benefits such as not getting nagged to finish your expense reports. These benefits can serve as your inspiration when you’re feeling your feet drag.
Create the success conditions that have helped you avoid procrastination in the past. For example, if you struggle with new tasks, find a familiar aspect to help you get started.
Look at your list of benefits. What good things will happen if you just move forward?
Do the smallest possible thing to get the task started.
Give yourself a reward — even a verbal “attaboy” — for taking a step in the right direction.
Approach one of your role models to be a mentor for you, or talk to your boss or another colleague about ways they can help you stay accountable.
— Liz Reyer, Minneapolis Star Tribune