Back in Class: Overtime Pay Class Action Brought Against Global Travel Retailer

Overtime class activities are in the headlines again. On February 22, 2019, a class action assert seeking damages of over $100 million was registered against Flight Centre, an Australia-based travel services supplier with shops in Canada and globally. The claim alleges that Flight Centre systematically neglected to pay overtime to its own retail sales personnel, referred to as”travel consultants”, requiring them to consistently work longer than their scheduled hours, also executed policies which fail to comply with the overtime entitlements under employment standards laws.

The claim was registered in Ontario and alleges the relevant employment standards legislation in every jurisdiction contains materially the very same provisions with respect to overtime entitlements. The claim alleges that the deficiencies at the company’s policies include:

Neglecting to have a method set up to monitor, monitor and compensate travel consultants for their hours worked;
mandating that traveling advisers sign averaging agreements and excess weekly hours of work agreements as part of the normal employment contracts;
requiring traveling consultants to attend meetings and coaching sessions for which they weren’t compensated; and
offering traveling consultants”special incentives” as reimbursement for overtime.

To ensure compliance with statutory overtime entitlements, employers must tackle the following:

Properly classify: seek advice from legal counsel prior to classifying an employee as exempt from statutory overtime entitlements. Assuming that an employee is exempt, when they really aren’t, may expose the employer to retroactive liability.

Track hours worked: develop and implement systems to correctly monitor and track actual hours worked by employees, including overtime hours.
Implement an endorsement system: need that employees obtain the approval of a manager prior to working overtime hours. This may be accomplished by having clear, unambiguous policies in place that stipulate (I) who must approve overtime, and (ii) when overtime could be approved and for what functions. Know more about ioof class action

Don’t unilaterally enforce averaging agreements: avoid unilaterally imposing averaging arrangements on workers, like requiring employees to sign averaging agreements as a condition of employment.
Employers should obtain legal advice where there is any uncertainty regarding their compliance with entitlements. By being proactive, companies might have the ability to prevent allegations of bad practice later on, saving their time, money and reputation.