Hours Worked: What’s Compensable and What Not’s

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While employed at the addiction recovery center; sorry to keep using this place as an example, there were a number of issues that were brought to my attention and this is the reason I blog.

Here is an example of a few things I dealt with, an employee informed me that the facility administrator was holding his check because he was late or did not complete a task prior to his shift ending and was required to stay late without pay (both actions illegal by the way). This same facility administrator was conducting mandatory staff meetings, and was not compensating nonexempt employees for attending these 2+ hour meetings. Needless to say he and I did not get along very well.

FYI- within the last year the Department of Labor (DOL) has been focused on combating employee misclassification, not to mention the significant increase in the number of wage-and-hour lawsuits. I’d say that today’s blog is the “educate yourself blog” on the dos and don’ts of hours worked, to whip you in shape, keep you out of the courts.

I came across an article written by Susan Prince, legal editor, with BLR and decided to share her most common hours worked mistakes employers make. I’d say I totally agree with the 15 items listed.

1. Waiting time

An employee who is on duty and waiting to be assigned a task is considered to be working.

Generally, an employee is on duty when the time is controlled by the employer and is of relatively short duration. However, when the employee is completely relieved of duty (i.e., is allowed to leave the premises and is told exactly when to return), this is not considered hours worked.

2. On-Call time

On-call time usually means that the employee is not on the employer’s premises. On-call time must be counted as hours worked when the employee is required to remain on call so that his or her time is so restricted that the employee cannot use it effectively for personal purposes.

Keep in mind that if an employee is not free to effectively use his or her time for own personal purposes, the time should be counted as hours worked.

3. Travel time

Normally not covered are the times and employee is commuting to and from work. However, special 1-day assignment to another location should be counted.

Travel away from home that includes being away overnight is work time when it cuts across the employee’s workday. The travel time is not only hours worked on regular workdays during normal work hours, but also during the corresponding hours on no workdays.

4. Meal periods

Keep in mind there is no federal law requiring meal break. However, breaks of up to 20 minutes must be counted as work time, and those that last more than 20 minutes must  be counted, so long as the employee is relieved of his/her duty, even if the employee is not permitted to leave the premises.

5. Rest periods

Rest breaks are not required by federal law, but if they are offered, they must be counted as hours worked so long as the breaks are of 5 to 20 minutes.

6. Sleeping time

Certain conditions require that sleeping time be compensable work time. An employee who is required to be on duty for fewer than 24 hours is working, even though permitted to sleep or engage in other personal activities when not busy.

“In the case of employees on duty for 24 or more consecutive hours, the employee and employer may agree to exclude from hours worked meal periods and a scheduled sleeping period of 8 hours or less, provided adequate sleeping facilities are furnished and the employee can typically enjoy an uninterrupted night’s sleep.

If the sleep period is interrupted by a call to duty, the interruption time is considered hours worked, and if the employee cannot get at least 5 hours of sleep, the entire period must be counted as work time” (Prince).

7. Split shifts

If an employee is entirely free to use the time off between work periods no need to count hours worked.

8. Training programs, lectures, and meetings

If attendance at these functions is required, the time must be counted as work time.

9. Holidays, vacations, and sick days

Unless there is an agreement to do so holidays, vacation days, and sick days are not counted as hours worked.

10. Medical attention

If an employee spends time waiting for and receiving medical attention on the premises or at the direction of the employer during normal working hours on days when the employee is working must be counted as work time. For example, an employee falls while heading to the conference room and an EMT was called.

11. Report-in pay

In Florida we experience hurricanes, California, earthquakes, and federal laws does not  require employers to pay employees who report to work but are unable to work because of some unusual condition at the workplace. Keep in mind though that some states require certain industries to provide report-in pay, check the laws in your state.

12. Suggestion systems

If an employee is permitted or assigned to work on suggestions during regular working hours, the time must be counted as work time, other wards it is not counted.

13. Telecommuniting

Employees who work at home must be paid only for the time that they are working, end of story.

14. Weekend work

The Fair Labor Standard Act (FLSA) does not require extra pay for weekend work. However, covered, nonexempt employees must be paid at least 1 ½ times their regular rates of pay for the time worked over 40 hours in a workweek whether worked on regular workdays or on the weekend.

15. Night work and shiftwork

The FLSA does not require extra pay for night work. Keep in mind employers are required to pay nonexempt workers 1 ½ their regular rates of pay for time worked over 40 hours

 

If for some reason you find the need not to comply, or think this is no big deal read the case of Safety Harbor Resort and Spa in Tampa, Fl. The spa was ordered to pay nearly $31,000 in back wages following DOL investigation.

http://www.dol.gov/whd/media/press/whdpressVB3.asp?pressdoc=Southeast/20131210.xml

 

 

 

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