I'm a new hire (4 months ago) at a company, working as a developer. I am hired as an hourly worker, and my contract states that I am eligible for overtime if I work more than 40 hours/week.
The issue is that all of my coworkers are salaried, and there is a culture of "work the job, not the hours." This sometimes means working a few more than 40 hours per week, and no one ever asks to be compensated for their overtime. Although I don't have concrete evidence, I believe that on the average week, my coworkers work less than 40 hours.
I'm struggling to fit in between the culture and my contract. I almost never work less than my 40 hours, and often end up working a few hours extra. I would like to either not have to work overtime without fear of appearing lazy, or to be compensated for my overtime. I brought the subject of overtime up with my manager once before, and the answer was pretty much "yes, you'll work more than 40 hours most weeks, but that's what is required from the job." There is also an overarching view from management that if the developers can't handle their responsibilities, they need to find a different job.
I am planning to approach my manager again, but am unsure of how to present my side effectively while not looking like a bad employee. I feel like I am asking to be a special snowflake and be treated different from my teammates, but I don't think the current situation is legal. I also don't want to make enemies of my managers by proposing "either I work less or get paid overtime," because I think that makes me an easy target for someone who needs to find a new job.
How can I manage my current situation? How can I approach these topics in conversation without potentially putting my employment in danger?
I met with my manager today to discuss the above (minus others working < 40 hours). She was very understanding, and noted that she initially had some difficulty with the hours issue due to me being her first hourly worker. She asked what was creating the extra work for me, and gave me the advice to be careful about burning out. She also wholeheartedly agreed that I should bill the time I was owed, and said she'd cover for me if she got any push-back from payroll. All-in-all, the meeting took 10 minutes and went incredibly well. Thanks to all of you for the advice and confidence! I highly recommend this approach to anyone else in a similar situation.