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VERIFY: Can employers make you work overtime?

According to federal law, employers have the right to change the demands of a job from one day to the next.

HOUSTON — A viewer asked KHOU 11 News to verify a question about workplace law.

Kathy P. wrote, “Within the last 6 months my job is telling us have to stay past our 8 hour shift. Sometimes we are at work 12-16 hrs. They say we have to stay, or else we could be terminated for job abandonment. Can an employer make you stay at work, past your shift? There is no mandatory overtime, so why should we be forced to stay?”

Richard Carlson is a professor specializing in employment law at the South Texas College of Law. He said most people are employed at will. According to federal law, that means employers have the right to change the demands of a job from one day to the next. The exception would be if there is a contractual agreement against overtime.

“The employer can demand overtime work, but the employer has to pay for it, especially if the employees are not salaried,” Carlson said.

He said if working long hours doesn’t work for you, your best option is to resign.

Therefore, KHOU can verify employers can legally make employees work overtime.