Federal laws and union bosses try to get employers to do the right thing. The fact is that if your boss controls you and your time, then you must be paid for that right. Unless you have a contract that absolutely restricts your boss from asking to work on specific days, however, you may have to make that meeting on your normal day off. It does count towards your hours for the week though.
Not If You Go to Church
When you’re hired, you really need to let your boss know about any religious obligations you have that could interfere with your work. Federal laws protect workers who cannot work on certain days because of their religious beliefs. So if that important meeting falls on a day you normally reserve for worship, your employer can’t force you to go. Now if missing the meeting causes your employee undue hardship, then she might have a loophole. If you not being there constitutes an emergency on the company’s part, you might have to go, but it’s up to your boss to prove it.
It's in Unwritten Contract Rules
When you are an at-will employee, your boss can fire you for any reason she wants unless it’s protected by religious, sexual orientation, gender or disability laws. When you go to work for someone, you get into a contract with that employer. Even if every little point is not expressly written in a contract, many of your boss’ rules are implied. Missing meetings might be a biggie for your boss, so you take the chance of losing your job if you don’t go.
Payment Depends on Your Status
There are certain rights that you have under U.S. workplace laws. One of them is that your boss can’t make you work off the clock if you’re a non-exempt employee. In other words, if you aren’t management and you get paid by the hour, then you must be paid for anything, including meetings that you are required to attend. The boss may force managers and exempt staff to attend meetings on their days off, but they usually get used to that kind of treatment by the time they reach that level.
Pick Your Battles
Just as you are free to quit if your boss makes you keep attending meetings on your days off, she can fire you if you don’t. Now she can’t come to your house and physically drag you to a meeting on your day off (or on any day for that matter). That would fall under criminal law and constitute assault. But every job entails some levels of politics and if you keep missing meetings, you can’t complain when you don’t get the next promotion. Rather than get into a spitting match with your boss, pick your battles. Talk to her about possibly changing the days she calls these important gatherings or find a way to be exempted from the mix without having to jump through hoops every time she calls.
Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."