Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and New York State Labor Law, employees must be paid for time spent before “clocking in” or after “clocking out” on activities that are necessary to perform their jobs.
For example, in some circumstances, employees may need to be paid for time spent putting on and taking off protective clothing, inspecting equipment, logging on and off of computers, accessing databases, transmitting data, completing post-shift security inspections and incident reports, unlocking a building, setting up supplies in work areas, reviewing work orders, and responding to calls about work issues or scheduling.
However, under the federal “de minimis” rule, businesses can require employees to work a trivial amount of time (up to 10 minutes) each day without compensation if the time is administratively difficult to track. In addition, only activities which are integral to performing the “principal activities” of the job are compensable.
Review Policies and Practices
Employers should ensure time-keeping policies are in writing. Employers should also have employees sign an acknowledgement that they have read the policy, and should keep a copy of this acknowledgement in the employee’s personnel files.
Additionally, employers may want to audit their time-keeping procedures. Doing so will ensure that the employer is in accordance with the law, and not “missing” any compensable time worked by employees.
Provide Training on Time-Keeping Rules
A best practice is to provide training to hourly employees and their managers so that everyone knows what constitutes compensable time. If the company uses a time clock or other process (such as a computer program or phone app) to record time worked, employees should be instructed on how to report work that may occur outside of the scheduled hours or when away from their primary work location.
Managers and front-line supervisors should understand the meaning of “hours worked” under applicable federal and state law. In addition, managers and front-line supervisors should know when to add time to an employee’s time sheet, and to confirm in writing to the employee that such time has been added.
Employers can promote accurate time-keeping by providing a mechanism for employees to report and be paid for all time worked, as well as to lodge complaints if time worked is not compensated.
Employers should make it clear that employees are prohibited from performing pre- and post-shift work without approval, but also let workers know that all such time must be reported and will be paid. If an employee works without authorization, an employer typically has the right to discipline the employee, but nevertheless must pay the employee for all time worked.
If you are an employer and have questions regarding what time is compensable, or if you are an employee and feel that you have not been paid for all time worked, feel free to contact Feather Law Firm, P.C. at (516) 745-9000 or firstname.lastname@example.org.