The problem with employers manipulating wages is larger than many people realize. Though we all understand the concept that anything over 40 hours should mean “time and a half” (or 1.5 times your normal wage), there’s a growing problem with employers trying to game the system so they don’t have to pay the extra money.

It’s important, as employees, to be aware of how your employer might mess with your hours so you can be on guard against it and make sure you get all the money that is coming to you. Take a look at these 5 common tricks employers use so you’ll be ready if any of them are tried on you.

  1. They call you an “independent contractor” when you aren’t one – Independent contractors are a special type of worker who can control their hours, where they work, and can sell their services to multiple employers. If all those qualifications don’t apply to you, you aren’t an independent contractor, and you deserve to get your overtime.
  1. They put you on a low salary – Just because you get a salary doesn’t mean you can’t get overtime. If your salary is less than $2,000 a month, contact someone to find out if you are still entitled to earning overtime.
  1. They make you clock out early – This is an old trick. If you have a meeting at work, you should be clocked in. if your boss wants to chat about your performance, you should be clocked in. if you are held over with work at lunch, you should be clocked in. If your boss is finding excuses to get you clocked out, you should be paid that money back, and if that puts you over 40 hours, you should be getting overtime.
  1. They average your hours – This one is a little more technical, and also a lot more malicious. According to the attorneys of the Leichter Law Firm, your employer is not allowed to spread your hours out over the whole pay period. How some employers do this is they move your overtime hours to a week when you worked less than full-time. Say you had to miss work for a day last week and this week you worked five hours of overtime. So, your boss wants to take those five hours and put them last week so you don’t get any extra pay. That’s illegal. Don’t let them get away with it.
  1. They “comp” your hours – Another of the more technical tricks of the cheating boss trade. Your boss may be taking your overtime and putting it toward future time off. This is perfectly legal in the public sector, but it isn’t if you’re an employee at a private (non-governmental) business.

It’s important to keep an eye out for these and other possible issues with your employer when it comes to your income. If you look at your paycheck and something doesn’t add up, start looking more closely and ask for more information.

If your boss is doing any of these things, you need to know that the law is on your side. If when confronted, your boss continues these practices and doesn’t pay you back what is owed, it may be time to contact a lawyer.