Off the clock hours are essentially hours that you won't get paid for and that won't get you any closer to overtime pay, as they're not recorded. You're just told that they're something you have to accept.
Have you ever been in this situation? It may very well be illegal. You need to know your rights as an employee.
Working on your free time
One way that employers may pressure you to do work off the clock is by adding to the duties you do before you come in or on the way home.
For instance, maybe you work at a shipping center that needs to make pickups of goods and materials to ship out. One of those pickup locations is a long way from the office, but it's close to your house. Your boss asks you to pick it up on your way into work. This saves everybody time and gets the shipment out sooner.
That's fine, as long as you're paid for that time. But, if you don't get paid until you arrive at the office and clock in, then they're taking advantage of you. You're essentially working from the moment you make that initial pickup, and you need to get paid for that time.
For another example, let's look at the restaurant industry. Maybe you work at a small diner that opens at 7 a.m. for breakfast. Your boss sets it up so that you work five days a week, starting at 7 a.m. However, they tell you that you really need to come in to clean the place and do setup at 6 a.m.
While you understand the need to do these tasks before opening, you still deserve to get paid for that time. If you spend an hour a day doing off the clock work, you're missing out on a lot of potential income, and you're doing overtime every week without proper increases to your compensation.
The problem is that your boss may pressure you with the implication that your job is on the line. Saying something like "If you won't do it, we'll find someone who will" pushes you to just accept this illegal situation. After all, you do not want to get fired and lose 100 percent of your income, even if you know that they are not treating you fairly and you should earn more.
At a time like this, it is critical that you know what legal rights you have, what steps you can take and how to protect yourself. You deserve proper compensation and any employer that doesn't give it to you is breaking the law.