Working Off the Clock


Paid work time is any time spent engaged in work that benefits the employer in some way. This includes work at home, opening and closing duties, pre-shift and post-shift work, and anything that is considered "an integral and indispensable" part of the employee's principal work. For example, time spent wearing uniforms to enter a facility is "an integral and indispensable" part of an employee’s work who has to work in that uniform. An employee is at work all hours he or she is under their employer's control and cannot engage in private pursuits. A worker who has to wait until they have an assignment is working and must be compensated. Likewise, if an employee is on-call and has restrictions on the use of free time, then that employee should be considered at work. Even for unauthorized overtime, an employee must be compensated. An employer cannot "accept the fruits of the employees' labor" without paying their employees. Therefore, policies such as "employees will not be paid for unapproved overtime" will not win in court. Perhaps the worst violations occur when supervisors urge their employees to clock out and then continue work. Employers cannot escape liability by refusing to keep records of their employee's "off-the-clock" work. In such cases, the law allows the employee to use reasonable estimates to reconstruct their work time.





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