With the dramatic reduction in the number of California construction workers representation by unions, employers have pushed the boundaries of the law in compensating workers. Many workers are unaware of the protections offered by the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act, and others, while aware, recognize that to complain is to invite termination. With the increase in the participation in the construction industry by immigrants, many are hesitant to come forward over concerns of immigration status. Failing to record all hours actually worked including working before or after the shift occurs.
- Shorting hours by using terms such as down time or rain delay
- Not compensating construction workers for mandatory labor law breaks where the employee is not completely relieved of all duties to enjoy uninterrupted time for the meal
- Banking of overtime hours or payment of overtime in the form of “comp time”
- Failing to combine hours worked for overtime purposes by an employee in more than one job classification for the same employer within the same workweek
- Failing to segregate and pay overtime hours on a workweek basis when employees are paid on a bi-weekly or semi-monthly basis
- Failing to pay for travel time from shop to work-site and back
The first step for construction workers is to know what benefits and protections are provided by the Fair Labor Standards Act, and other legal standards in California. The State of California Department of Industrial Relations provides detailed information as to employer’s responsibilities and workers rights in the state. The Bureau of Field Enforcement is charged with investigating complaints. BOFE is responsible for the investigation and enforcement of statutes covering workers’ compensation insurance coverage, child labor, and cash pay.
All workers in California are protected by labor laws. No one filing a complaint will be questioned as to immigration status or report any status to other government agencies. There is no need for a social security number or a photo identification to report a labor law violation.
Perhaps most importantly, The Retaliation Complaint Unit investigates allegations of retaliation against workers for filing complaints concerning termination, suspension, transfer or demotion, reduction in pay or hours, disciplinary actions or threats, and unfair immigration-related practices.
As the construction industry moves to meet the increasing workload of resolving the state’s housing crisis, it is imperative that those doing the actual work of construction have their rights and benefits assured.