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Beware: Compensable Time Covers Nights, Weekends Too

By Andrew Lu on July 31, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Some of the largest judgments and verdicts you will see against employers involve wage and hour class action claims.

Wage and hour lawsuits encompass many violations. One of the trickiest areas can involve figuring just when employees are working, also known as compensable time.

So just when is someone working? Unfortunately, not every case is straightforward. Here are five compensable time scenarios that frequently give rise to problems, as reported by Inside Counsel:

  1. Waiting Time. The employee is out of work and sitting around. Does the employee have to be paid for this wait time? The answer is that it depends. Generally, if the employee can go home, then no. But if the employee is required to wait onsite, the time may have to be paid.

  2. Mandatory Training/Lunches. If employees have to do something (see mandatory), that time usually must be paid.

  3. Off-the-Clock Work. Employees who are required to do things before or after the workday, must be compensated for these activities. Off-the-clock work can include employees who must dress at work, respond to emails at home, and other activities.

  4. Work Travel. Commutes ordinarily are not compensable time, but work travel is. So if an employee has to travel from site to site, the employee usually must be paid for the time in the car.

  5. Lunch. Eating at the desk is a giant red flag. If employees must take lunch break, make sure they leave their desk. Otherwise, you may have to pay for the time and possibly face penalties for not giving breaks.

Compensable time is one of the most difficult issues that human resource workers and in-house counsels will face. Keep these five tricky situations in mind and make sure your company has a solid policy for paying workers.

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