Having read Required to work unpaid overtime to "make up" for a shorter commute after moving closer to the office, I recall hearing that in the US doing unpaid work for a company is actually considered a gift that the employer is required to report on their taxes. Is that actually the case? I've never heard of a company doing that.
Is unpaid overtime a taxable gift to the employer?
No, this is simply not true. When an employee works overtime one of two things happen:
- the employee is either exempt from FLSA overtime rules and receives nothing for it,
- or the employee is owed overtime pay for all time worked over the applicable FLSA overtime threshold in the applicable FLSA work period (typically 40 hours per week)
An employee who is owed overtime is legally unable to give up his right to overtime pay. He must be paid for it as part of the regular pay cycle (i.e. within X weeks as defined by state/federal law). Employees who were not paid overtime and can prove that they worked overtime while non-exempt are eligible for backpay years down the line and the employer would be subject to heavy fines. This may be the source for the rumour you've heard.
For more details, check my answer here where I go into obsessive amounts of detail on exempt and non-exempt status.
I am not a legal professional and this answer does not constitute legal advice. It is only intended to be a summary of the applicable laws as they apply in general.
I have never heard this approach, but working for wages is usually governed by each state's department of labor and unless you are an Exempt Employee, you can not be forced or asked to be working overtime without pay. It is illegal. If you are non-exempt, you get paid for each hour or smallest fraction allowed in your employment contract, for time worked.
When you are exempt, you are considered to be above average compensated and you are not subject to overtime pay. I am not sure what your situation is. In exempt employee contracts, there usually is a clause saying that some out of normal working hours and some weekend work is expected of you, which goes without saying, the compensation is already in your pay, so you shouldn't expect overtime or any other method of compensation.