As an employment lawyer, one of the most common questions I receive from clients is whether employees must be compensated for off the clock work required by their employer. Employees are entitled to be paid for all work performed at the direction of and for the benefit of their employer, whether on or off the clock. In this article, we will explore the issue of off the clock work in more detail and discuss how Shavitz Law Group can assist you if you are being asked to work off the clock.
The Fair Labor Standards Act
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a federal law that governs minimum wage and overtime pay. Under the FLSA, non-exempt employees are entitled to overtime for every hour worked over 40 hours in a work week. If an employee is performing work-related tasks while off the clock, they are entitled to compensation for their time.
Understanding Off the Clock Work
Off the clock work refers to any work done by an employee for their employer outside of their regular working hours, for which they are not compensated. This includes responding to emails, texts, or phone calls while not at the workplace or off-shift, attending work-related meetings (virtually or in person) while you are off the clock, or performing any other work-related task.
Meal and Rest Times
A common type of off the clock work is interrupted meals or rest breaks. While employers may interrupt unpaid breaks for any reason, they must pay for the break when they do so. Thus, if an employee is taking lunch in the break room and a supervisor comes in to discuss a work-related issue, then the employer must compensate the employee for that break. If an employer automatically deducts time for meal breaks (usually 30 minutes) and interrupts an employee’s meal break, then the deduction must be adjusted so that the employee is paid for the interrupted break. Similarly, working while eating does not constitute a meal break, and if an employer requires this, then it must pay for the meal break.
Boot-Up Time and Study Time
Boot-up time refers to the amount of time it takes for an employee to start up their work computer or equipment, load the required applications, and review any necessary materials before commencing their tasks. This time is compensable. If an employer does not start tracking an employee’s time until after they perform preliminary tasks which are indispensable to the employee’s job, then the employee is owed wages for this off the clock work.,
Study time reflects the amount of time employers require employees to spend studying materials when they are off the clock. Study time most frequently occurs when an employer requires employees to undergo training and/or to matriculate through certain modules and pass certain tests.
Wage and Hour Lawsuits
If an employee believes they are entitled to compensation for off the clock work they may file suit against their employer within two or three years of the most recent violation. An employee may proceed individually to obtain the wages owed. In addition, employees may proceed collectively. This is where a group of similarly situated employees who have been denied overtime for the same off the clock violations band together to sue as a group. Either way, the employees are not responsible for attorney’s fees and costs; rather, if the employee prevails, then the employer must pay the employee’s attorney’s fees and costs.
An Experienced Employment Attorney Can Help
If you or someone you know has worked off the clock without receiving compensation, it’s essential to take action. At Shavitz Law Group, our experienced attorneys have a deep understanding of employment law and can help you navigate the legal system. We can evaluate your case and determine if you have a valid claim, and if so, we will fight tirelessly for your right to compensation. By seeking assistance from Shavitz Law Group, you can ensure that your rights as an employee are protected and that you receive the compensation you deserve for your work. Call today at (800) 616-4000.