Most jobs have their downsides. Whether it’s a grueling hour-plus commute or an overly demanding boss, our complaints about work typically involve being forced to spend more time and energy on work-related activities than we’re expected to. But there are other, more insidious ways that work starts to invade our personal lives, often without our even noticing.
These issues are clearly very different for low-wage and white-collar workers (having your hourly paycheck docked because you miss the bus and show up five minutes late is not the same as a salaried employee being asked to stay a few hours late to work on a project), but we all experience them to some degree.
Here are three of the most common ways American workers get screwed.
1. The 40-hour workweek is a fantasy.
While most of us would shudder at the thought of working six days a week, a new Gallup study reports that full-time U.S. workers spend about 47 hours per week on the job, the equivalent of almost an entire extra workday. This added time can be drawn from any number of sources: mandatory meetings outside of work hours, eating lunch at our desks because we’re too busy to take a break, or simply staying an hour or two late every night to meet deadlines or wrap up tasks.
This infringement on workers’ time is even more egregious for employees who make minimum wage. For many of these workers, who are cobbling together weekly schedules with multiple part-time and temporary jobs, full-time status is just a pipedream. But the ongoing fast-food worker strikes have helped bring the issue of wage theft to national attention. Nine out of every 10 fast-food workers say they don’t get the pay they earned because of off-the-clock work.