A new global survey commissioned by The Workforce Institute at Kronos Incorporated and conducted by Harris Interactive reveals that a majority of hourly workers around the world believe their employer has violated laws or rules governing overtime in their region. The survey also looked at the frequency of overtime around the world and employee perceptions of how fairly their employers provide overtime.

The vast majority of hourly wage workers around the world said they are at least somewhat aware of the rules and laws governing overtime and compensation where they live (from a high of 96% in China to a low of 72% in Australia) and a majority in every region except the US also believe their employers had at some point violated overtime rules (88% high in China to 47% low in the US).

The survey found that overtime is very commonplace around the world. In all regions surveyed except France, more than half of hourly wage workers said their employer offered them the opportunity to work overtime hours (defined as more than their regularly scheduled work hours at either a higher rate of pay or in return for paid time off), ranging from 82% in India to 52% in Canada, with the UK ranking in the middle at 79% in the U.K.

The survey also found that high numbers of hourly wage workers around the world are actually required by their employer to work overtime: more than half in India (68%), China (67%), and the UK (58%), and significant numbers in other regions as well: 37% in Australia, 35% in France, 33% in Brazil, 26% in the US, 24% in Mexico, and 20% in Canada.

The opportunity to work additional hours for a higher rate of pay or additional paid time off was very appealing to employees around the world. The majority of workers in every region surveyed said that they were happy with the amount of overtime hours they worked or wished they could work more: 92% in Brazil, Canada, and the US; 91% in Australia; 90% in the UK and Mexico; 88% in France; 85% in India; and 61% in China.

Paul DeCamp, National Chair, Wage and Hour Practice, Jackson Lewis LLP, and former Administrator of the U. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, said:

“Seeing that significant numbers of employees around the world believe their employers have violated overtime laws should serve as a wake-up call to employers everywhere. If your employees perceive that you are out of compliance, you are at risk for a wage-and-hour lawsuit which can be incredibly costly even if you are ultimately found to be in compliance. Investment in wage and hour compliance should be seen as part of risk management for any smart business.”

Joyce Maroney, Director of The Workforce Institute, Kronos, said:

“Our survey looked at employee perceptions, but regardless of the actual state of affairs, if employees perceive that their employer is out of compliance, that employer is at risk. A key way for an organisation to protect itself from wage and hour lawsuits is to have an automated way to keep track of time worked. Many organizations are also using ‘attestation’ technology whereby employees attest to the accuracy of their timecard information at the end of every day or pay period. Ensuring that employees get paid accurately is in everyone’s best interests and an automated solution is a critical tool in making this happen.”