8 workplace rights that security guards should know they have

Do you work as a security guard, or do you have a family member or friend who does? Many people working in this field don’t know some of the rights that they have in the workplace, and some of their employers don’t know either. In this article, we highlight eight of these workplace rights that you (or they) may not even know about. These can make a big difference in your paychecks! 

(And of course if your employer hasn’t followed these rules … you may want to: 

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  1. You’re entitled to Overtime 

If you work more than 40 hours a week, the law requires the company to pay you time and a half for each hour over forty hours worked in a week. In some places there is also pay due if you work more than 10 hours from stop to finish … even if you had a break in the middle.  

If you are working 50 or 60 hours a week (or even 41) but only getting paid for 40, you are being cheated. Not only does the company owe you for the overtime they didn’t pay, but they may have to pay you a “penalty” as well.  This also applies if your company is paying you “straight time” for the hours over 40 per week. 

  1. Your Overtime Should Be Calculated on Total Hours Worked 

If you work 30 hours at one job site and 20 hours at another job site and it is all with the same security guard company, then that counts as 50 hours worked.  If that is all in one week, that equals 10 hours of overtime.  If the two sites have different pay rates, your overtime rate should be 1.5x your “blended rate,” which is an average of the two rates.  The math can be a little tricky to figure out, but that’s our job. If you are just getting time and a half the lower hourly rate, you may have been underpaid. 

  1. Breaks are deducted, even when you didn’t take them 

Do your time logs show automatic deductions of a half hour or an hour for meal break, or some other break time, but you are generally working straight through?  There is nothing inherently wrong with your employer automatically deducting 30 or 60 minutes for your lunch break – unless you don’t actually get to take it and the employer knows or should know you don’t.  If there is a policy requiring you to report it when you don’t get to take lunch, make sure you report it.  If you’re still not paid properly, this is a form of wage theft. 

  1. Supervisor is Rounding Time Reporting Down 

If you are working from 7:30 to 5:15 but your supervisor is logging it as 8 to 5 (or worse yet, just “8.5 hours”), you are getting cheated. If one day you arrive at 8:05 and the next you’re there at 7:55 and both days he logs it as 8:00, that kind of rounding generally is permitted. The best way to ensure you are not getting cheated in this manner is to track your exact hours worked every day. 

  1. You are Required to List Shift Hours Rather than Hours Worked 

If your shift hours are 8:00 to 5:00 but you actually work from 7:48 to 5:18, a company requirement to falsify your time logs cheats you out of a half an hour of work.  The law requires companies to keep accurate time logs (not just shift logs.)  Whether this is happening to just you, or multiple employees, this is illegal and should be stopped.  

  1. “Docking” Pay as a Form of Punishment 

Your employer may not dock time for workplace infractions.  Period.  Employers have many options available to them when disciplining employees for workplace violations, but they may not refuse to pay you for time you worked.  You are entitled to your full pay for the hours you work, even if you don’t perform as your employer would like. 

  1. Withholding Pay for Prep Time 

In the morning, do you have to patrol the perimeter, talk to the guard whom you are relieving of his post, attend meetings, receive instructions about the day’s jobs, etc? You are entitled to compensation for this time.  Similarly, at the end of the day, do you have to complete paperwork, clean up, fill out reports, etc.? That should be paid too! If you are at work, doing things for your employer, you should be paid.  If you’re not you’re being cheated. 

  1. Drive Time Between Sites 

If you patrol multiple locations in a given day, you should be getting paid for the time it takes to drive between them.  While commuting to work, and back home is not paid, any time you are traveling for work should be compensated at your normal rate.  

Wage theft can be very confusing, which is why it is important to have an experienced attorney helping you.  At AndersonDodson, this is all that we do.  If you believe you are a victim, or even if you just want someone to look at your pay stubs to ensure everything adds up properly, let us know.  We offer free, confidential consultations for all our clients.