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Three Times Employees Must be Paid Not to Work

By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on January 24, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Wage laws are tricky. But it is an area of law all employers need to familiarize themselves with. It's necessary to compensate employees -- sometimes even when you least expect it. In fact, there are times when employees need to be paid for... not working.

Wait, wait. "Wages" are supposed to be money employees get for their "work." Right?

It depends. There are times when an employee needs to be rightly compensated for well, doing other things besides work. What are they?

When employees are sent off to get trained or educated.

If you require that employees attend seminars, lectures, or other educational sessions, you may need to compensate them. You may also be on the hook for time spent traveling to the location.

When employees are "on-call."

Are some of your employees required to stay on-location? Are they there simply waiting for your call? If so they may need to be paid for their time. Employees may also be entitled to pay if they are on-call at different locations. Restrictions on employee activities may apply. For example, employers may restrict workers from drinking while "on-call." They may also restrict employees from doing work for other employers.

When employees sleep on the job.

Sometimes employees need to sleep on the job if they work long shifts. This may be especially true if employees have 24-hour shifts. This means you might need to compensate employees for taking naps -- as counterintuitive as that is.

You should check your state's wage laws first before making any decisions about paying employees for not working. It may also be a good idea to contact an employment attorney who can advise you on applicable wage and benefits statutes in your jurisdiction.

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