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A veterinary team's overtime troubles-extra time but no extra money
Governmental regulation expert Philip Seibert helps a veterinary practice know where to turn when a practice owner is misinformed on the legalities of overtime.
Time to go home soon, right? (Getty Images)Q. In the veterinary practice where I work, when it comes to overtime pay, the practice owner says we're exempt, reasoning that our practice is an agricultural business. Although we are a mixed animal practice, we see a higher percentage of small animals. When we raise this issue with the owner, it just causes an argument. This is really impacting our practice because staff are frequently leaving due to the high number hours of worked without appropriate compensation. How do we find out what the rules are for overtime pay?
A. The only thing I can say is, your practice owner is just flat-out misinformed. Veterinary hospitals are not exempt from the overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Here's a document from the Department of Labor specifically addressing overtime for veterinary technicians. And here's a fact sheet from the AVMA.
Since it appears that your boss is unreceptive when you try to discuss this matter, I'm not sure I can say anything that will change your practice owner's mind. The best advice I can give is to find a hospital where staff members are appreciated more or contact your state's labor department for help. If you do contact the labor department, you could get back overtime, and the veterinary practice will likely have to pay a penalty in addition to the back overtime. However, it may not be a nice place to work after that!
The best advice I have for your practice owner is to contact a competent labor law attorney or consultant in your state with the above information, because the advice your boss is getting is no good.
Hope this helps.
Phil Seibert, CVT, is based in Calhoun, Tennessee. He specializes in OSHA issues and is the author of The Complete Veterinary Practice Regulatory Compliance Manual (6th Edition).