I work in a retail store. Being the new guy I always get the closing shift. Usually there is only one other coworker for the closing shift, and we have a specific set of tasks including locking various doors/gates and turning lights off. The store officially closes at 11 and we get paid until 11:15 (to account for the time it takes to cash out etc).

Almost always we are late leaving and sometimes its over 30 minutes late. I don’t know why it is, but for a couple reasons it’s a problem. First off, given my living situation and other commitments I rely on leaving work when scheduled to do so (I live in shared accommodation and it wakes another person up when I come home late). Second, I don’t think it’s fair to be working and not getting paid (we get paid per hour, but only for the scheduled time, so if we stay late it doesn’t count). Generally speaking, the closing up process requires both of us to be on the same page. For example, the last thing we do is arm the security alarm and we both need to be out of the store within 30 seconds of it. Sometimes coworkers hangout in the store after it closes. For example one likes to use the computer to surf the internet. They usually don’t tell me this ahead of time and this messes me up because I’m waiting for them to tell me I can arm the alarm, thinking they are still working.

My first question is, when is it expected for a person to work extra time without being paid? Am I being too pedantic about staying 30 minutes late? What actions should I take?

Today a manager told us to mop the floor, but we didn’t have time too and still left 45 minutes late because of a large order. I was surprised to find my coworker planned on hanging around the store indefinitely just to relax, and I told him I usually have to go home on scheduled time. I’m a bit concerned since everyone else is in no rush to get the job done and leave work, they assume I’m the same way.

  • This site focuses on questions that have practical answers or are general enough to be useful so rather than asking "Is it normal?" I'd suggest editing your question to what I assume your real goal is, something like "How do I avoid coworkers drawing out the closing process?" or a variation thereof. Overtime policies are different for every company and industry, there is no real "normal". – Lilienthal Dec 8 '16 at 8:49
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    Aside from this, note that any time spent working is time you have to be paid for if you aren't overtime-exempt. See my answer on this question for details. Long story short: your boss requires that you're at work until you close and it's illegal for him not to pay you for work done after 11:15. He can require you to close by 11:15 and impose consequences (i.e. fire you) if you don't, he just can't refuse to pay you for that time. – Lilienthal Dec 8 '16 at 8:49
  • The above assumes you are in the US, please clarify if that's the case or, if not, what country you're working in. – Lilienthal Dec 8 '16 at 8:50

You entered into a whole different job environment and you probably feel a bit concerned. Your colleagues find it normal to hang out after work and you don't. If you can't adjust to this (or if you don't want to), I'd suggest the following.

Explain to your boss why you can't leave late in the evenings. That you expected to work until 11:15 but that it always turns out to be way later than 11:15. Say you'll have no problem with working until 11:15, but not afterwards. So ask if he can take care of it, or if he can change your shifts (to a morning or afternoon shift for instance).

I don't expect your colleagues to change, since it seems they like to hang out late. So the best way would be changing your shifts - what way you don't have to keep trying to get your colleagues out of the door. You'll be home in time so you won't bother your roommates.

To stay once late it's OK, but this is structural and not fairly paid. If you give in to this, it will probably get worse. Now is still the time to address it.

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  • Thanks would you suggest talking to my boss immediate or addressing it with my coworkers first? I'm not trying to get anyone into trouble. – JayT Dec 8 '16 at 8:57
  • I'd probably first become friends with your colleagues and ask them if it has always been normal to hang out late. What their motivation is, why they like it, and if they think it's normal to not get paid extra. Try to understand them and the work situation. Maybe your co-workers really need the money or don't have that much to do so they like to hang out late. After that you can decide how to approach your boss, without making trouble for others. – Luchadora Dec 8 '16 at 9:00

NOTE: This answer is based on a large corporate retail store. I'm not sure how this answer will help if you are in a small local retail store.

It depends on what retail store. I used to work at the Gap in college. Anything past 15 minutes is past regulation rules and the managers can get in huge trouble for keeping you longer, especially after the recent lawsuit against Gap for mistreating employees. If you agree to stay longer, I believe past 15 minutes is considered overtime and you will see it in your check.

Check up with company policies. Read up, if there's any red flags, document them, and report to the higher ups. I'm sure they will react quickly to avoid a lawsuit.

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This does seem to be a common theme in retail. I worked in it last year and we were expected to stay unpaid after closing until the store was tidy and ready to open the next morning. While to management, this probably means that you're motivated to get the work done quickly so they can leave but in reality, it destroys morale and the quality of the tidy was poor because the people were thinking "why should I do this? I'm not being paid for it."

The question does arise as to what your salary actually is. If it's minimum wage then the extra 30 minutes unpaid means that for the total hours you're working, you're earning less than minimum wage and your employer is breaking the law.

As for what you can do about it, you can mention it to your boss but your response is likely to be that none of the other employees have a problem with it and your card will be marked. You could also mention it to the other employees who will sympathise but probably are used to it and have a "yeah but what are you gonna do about it" attitude.

Basically, your options are to find another job, try to get put on a different shift or keep quiet and suck it up.

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