The Fair Labor Standards Act, or FLSA, regulations say that your employer has to pay you for certain hours worked – but what are those hours, and what can you do if you’re not paid for working them?
FLSA Regulations on Pay
Under FLSA, your employer has to pay you for all compensable time. Compensable time is time that you worked for your employer. Hourly employees working off the clock are often entitled to pay for what they’re doing, as are some on-call hourly employees.
FLSA says, “Work not requested but suffered or permitted to be performed is work time that must be paid for by the employer. For example, an employee may voluntarily continue to work at the end of the shift to finish an assigned task or to correct errors. The reason is immaterial. The hours are work time and are compensable.”
This can include:
- Waiting time
- On-call time
- Rest and meal breaks
- Sleeping time and other activities
- Lectures, meetings and training programs
- Travel time (but not all travel time)
Waiting Time Under FLSA Regulations
Time you spend waiting for work may be compensable (your employer might have to pay you for it). The Department of Labor gives these examples: “A secretary who reads a book while waiting for dictation or a fireman who plays checkers while waiting for an alarm is working during such periods of inactivity. These employees have been ‘engaged to wait.’”
Being engaged to wait is considered work time. However, if you’re waiting to be engaged, that’s not work time. If you’re not sure about the difference, talk to a Glendale employment lawyer who can evaluate your specific situation.
FLSA Regulations for On-Call Time
Sometimes employees who are required to remain on-call are entitled to pay. Generally – but not always – a worker who has to stay on the employer’s premises while on-call is entitled to pay, while one who’s allowed to go home isn’t. However, sometimes employees who are allowed to go home when they’re on call are still entitled to pay. That may happen when an employer puts certain restrictions on what the employee can and can’t do while at home.
Learn more about on-call pay for hourly employees.
Rest and Meal Breaks in FLSA Regulations
In most cases, employers are required to pay workers for rest breaks. The time the employee is on break often needs to count as hours worked, too. However, bona fide meal periods that last 30 minutes or more don’t usually have to be paid time – but the employee is still entitled to take that meal break. If the employee is required to work through lunch, it doesn’t count as a meal break.
Sleeping Time and Other Activities Under FLSA Regulations
If an employee is scheduled to be on duty for less than 24 hours can still be considered to be working if he or she is sleeping. If an employee needs to be on duty for 24 hours or more, he or she can agree to exclude regularly scheduled sleeping periods from compensable time. That means you could agree with your employer that you won’t be paid for time you spend sleeping. However, that period can’t exceed 8 hours, and your employer has to provide adequate sleeping facilities and you can reasonably expect to “enjoy an uninterrupted night’s sleep.”
Your employer can’t reduce your wage for that period unless you sleep at least 5 hours.
FLSA Regulations on Lectures, Meetings and Training Programs
Your employer does not have to pay you for attending lectures, meetings or training programs if it can meet these four criteria:
- The lecture, meeting or training program occurs outside normal work hours
- Attendance is voluntary
- The lecture, meeting or training program is not job-related
- You aren’t performing other work concurrently
FLSA Regulations on Travel Time
Sometimes employers are required to pay for travel time, and sometimes they’re not. Here’s a quick breakdown:
- Home-to-Work travel: Your employer doesn’t have to pay you for traveling from home to work (or back home again).
- Home to Work on a Special One-Day Assignment in Another City: If you normally work in one location but your employer requires you to go to another location in another city, and if you return on the same day, the time traveling to and from the other location is considered compensable time. However, your employer is within its rights to deduct the time you’d normally spend traveling to and from work. For example, if the one-day assignment keeps you in the car for an extra 20 minutes each way, your employer may elect to only pay you for that extra 20 minutes because you would’ve been in the car to go to work anyway.
- All in a Day’s Work: If your principal work activity requires you to travel during the day, such as from job site to job site, it is work time. Your employer has to pay you for it, and it has to count toward your hours worked for the week.
- Travel Away From Home Community: If your employer requires you to spend the night away from home, it’s considered “travel away from home.” It’s work time when it occurs during your workday, or during normal working hours on days you don’t normally work.
Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About FLSA Regulations?
If you believe your employer has violated FLSA regulations on pay, you should talk to a Glendale employment lawyer as soon as possible.
Call us at 818-230-8380 for a free case review. We’ll answer your questions and talk about possible outcomes of your case, as well as give you the legal advice you need.