4 Reasons Why Companies Can Ask Exempt Employees to Work for “Free”



The leaked Urban Outfitters memo asking salaried employees to volunteer one or more weekend shifts at an Urban Outfitters fulfillment center to pick, pack and ship merchandise is really no story at all, despite Internet shaming and sensational claims that Urban Outfitters is making management employees work for “free.” The request of Urban Outfitters is not unusual; it is just unusual that the request was leaked to the media. Employers regularly require exempt employees to go over and above a 40-hour work week without additional pay, and this approach is appropriate under wage-hour laws.

And, while some media commentators have dubbed this as “working for free,” the reality is that the employees are not working for free. They have agreed to work all required hours in exchange for a certain salary. After all, remember that there are salary requirements for exempt employees, so those who are being asked to “volunteer” are being compensated at a higher pay grade, at or above a salary set by our federal and state governments pursuant to public policy considerations.

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