An important step in determining if you are eligible for overtime pay is determining how many hours you work in a given workweek. If your employer fails to recognize and count certain hours worked as compensable hours, he or she may be unfairly denying you the overtime pay you deserve. Review the information below to learn what constitutes compensable time under the Department of Labor's Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
Labor laws state that an employer must pay employees for work that is not requested but is suffered or permitted to be performed. For example, if an employee voluntarily continues to work after his or her shift has ended to finish an assigned task or correct errors, these hours are work time and are compensable.
Waiting time counts as hours worked when:
For example, a secretary who reads a book while waiting for dictation or a fireman who plays chess while waiting for a fire alarm to go off. Under the FLSA, these employees are considered to be "engaged to wait" and, therefore, they are entitled to receive pay for the time.
Waiting time does not count as hours worked if:
In certain kinds of occupations, employers make arrangements with employees to be on-call. According to labor laws, under certain circumstances, this time should be compensated.
On-call time counts as eligible overtime hours if:
It usually does not count as hours worked when:
Employee attendance at lectures, meetings, training programs and similar activities is considered hours worked and must be paid unless each the following four criteria are met:
According to labor laws, ordinary home-to-work travel time does not count as work hours or have to be paid, but travel between job sites during the normal work day is work time and should be paid, even in overtime, if applicable. If travel keeps an employee away from home overnight, the time is not only hours worked on regular working days during normal working hours but also during corresponding hours on nonworking days. Time spent in travel away from home outside of regular working hours as a passenger on an airplane, train, boat, bus, or automobile is not counted as hours worked.
If an employee is required to be on duty for less than 24 hours, these are considered work hours even if he/she is permitted to sleep or engage in other personal activities when not busy. Employees who are scheduled to be on duty for 24 hours or more may come to an agreement with the employer to exclude regularly scheduled sleeping periods of not more than 8 hours from hours worked. If such an agreement is in place, the employer must provide adequate sleeping facilities and the employee must be able to enjoy an uninterrupted night's sleep. No reduction is permitted unless the employer takes at least 5 hours of sleep.
Meal periods (typically 30 minutes or more) are not considered hours worked if the employee is relieved of all duties for the purpose of eating a meal. If the employee is required to perform any duties, whether active or inactive, while eating, the period should count as hours worked. Short rest periods (5 to 20 minutes) are counted as hours worked and must be paid. These are just general guidelines regarding what should be counted as hours worked. If you believe that you have worked over 40 hours per week and have not received the overtime pay you are entitled to, contact our overtime attorneys today. We provide a free case review to potential clients in which we evaluate your claim and determine the best course of action to get you the compensation you deserve.