If you are a Texas oil, gas, or coal worker, you may be paid on a per-job basis or per-diem basis—that is, you receive a set amount of money for each job you complete or for each day you work. Sometimes this can work to your advantage, if that day your job happens to be particularly easy. But, if your job is difficult and time-consuming, a per-diem or per-job system can be a tricky way for an employer to avoid having to pay you for overtime.
Per-Diem Pay May Seem Attractive, But You’d Better Think Twice
Many energy workers in Texas and elsewhere initially like the per-diem or per-job system, because it gives them a feeling of autonomy and doesn’t put them in the category of an hourly “wage slave.” If the employer is especially devious, the first few jobs assigned to these workers may be fairly easy, and the per-diem employees will think they’ve struck a lucrative bargain. But, what happens when a “day” actually turns out taking 12 or 14 hours, or a job takes three times as long to complete as the employer had represented?
The fact is, many per-job and per-diem energy workers wind up working extra hours, and they would have earned more if they had been paid an hourly wage (since overtime hours technically are payable at one-and-one-half times the worker’s hourly wage). By paying employees on a per-job or per-diem basis, energy companies are counting on these employees not to do the math and figure out they’re being cheated, rather than rewarded.
There is some good news, though. Even if you are being paid on a per-diem or per-job basis, you may be able to hold your employer liable for overtime hours, since Texas courts are increasingly hostile to unfair labor practices. Your odds are better if you work on a per-day or per-job basis for one employer or contractor, which would essentially make you a full-time employee, rather than for a few clients in any given week. If you can demonstrate that you are not an “exempt” employee—that is, that you don’t bring a special set of skills to your job—you may be able to recoup back overtime pay.
Are you a per-day or per-diem energy worker in the state of Texas? You may be eligible for overtime pay.
At Kennedy Law Firm LLP, we make it our business to fight on behalf of exploited workers for their illegally withheld overtime pay. If you are a Texas oil, gas or coal worker who regularly puts in 50 or 60 hours per week, and is not compensated for overtime, call our office for a free consultation today!