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Showing up early and staying late – Should I get paid for putting in extra time?

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Work shifts don’t always run according to schedule.

While you might be scheduled to work a set shift, your employer or manager may expect you to come in 15 minutes before your shift starts to set up for the day, or you may have to stay past the time your shift is scheduled to end to finish cleaning, fill out paperwork, or be cashed out. Employees are often encouraged to show dedication and strong work ethic by going the extra mile – or working the extra hour. And, managers are often pressured or incentivized to keep labor costs down, which can lead to employees being pressured to wait to clock in or to clock out before they have actually finished their work. While compliant employers will have employees stay “on the clock” for all time worked, many make the mistake of paying employees based on their scheduled hours instead of the actual time they worked or having employees work “off the clock”. If an employer only doesn’t pay for all time actually worked, the employee’s wage rights have been violated.

The failure to pay employees for all “compensable time” is one of the most frequent wage and hour violations nationwide according to the Department of Labor.  In general, “hours worked” includes all time an employee must be on duty, or on the employer’s premises or at any other prescribed place of work (except for certain breaks), from the beginning of the first work activity to the end of the last work activity of the workday.

This means that compensable time might exceed the scheduled time and can occur before or after the employee clocks in or out. There are some common scenarios that result in violations to be mindful of:

Whether the time was “approved”:

Some employees are told that they will not be paid for worktime because the time was not “approved,” either before or after the work was completed. This is not legal. The Fair Labor Standards Act defines the term “employ” to mean “to suffer or permit to work.” 29 U.S.C. § 203(g). This means that even if the employee voluntarily continues to work past the end of their shift, or starts their shift early to help-out, that work time is compensable, regardless of whether it was scheduled or approved in advance.

Pre-shift or Post-shift duties: 

Some employers require employees to report to work before their “scheduled shift” for things like pre-shift meetings, or to work past their scheduled shift to complete “closing duties”. For example, this commonly occurs in restaurants, where the servers often report before their scheduled shift starts to learn about the daily features or promotions and are required to stay past their scheduled shift ends to clean and prepare for the next shift. Again, the time spent at staff meetings, cleaning, and preparing for the next shift qualifies as compensable time under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Time spent training:

Another frequent source of compensable hour violations is time spent training. When an employee is required to participate in training, whether onsite or online, that time must be recorded and paid for. It does not matter whether the employee is merely shadowing or watching training videos—if the training is job related and required, it qualifies as compensable time.

Travel time:

Employees who travel as a part of their work activity, like traveling from one job site to another during the workday, is work time and must be counted as hours worked. While the time spent traveling to the worksite from home and back is not compensable, if the employee is asked to travel during the workday they must be paid for that time.

If you have questions about compensable hours and would like to discuss your workplace rights, contact our office for a free consultation. You can fill out the form below, or call us at (513) 202-0710.

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ADVERTISING ONLY: The information on this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation.

Past results obtained by Biller & Kimble, LLC are no guarantee of future results. Each case or matter is different and must be judged on its own merits.