The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires that covered, nonexempt employees receive overtime pay at a rate of not less than one and one-half times an employee's regular rate of pay after 40 hours of work in a workweek.
This means that if an hourly employee works over 40 hours, they better be getting overtime pay. But that doesn’t always happen.
For example, a Wisconsin cleaning company recently came under fire for violating federal wage and hour laws. The company failed to pay employees for the time they spent loading trucks and driving to job sites. As a result, the company now has to pay $104,421 in back wages to 56 workers.
Sometimes companies encourage managers to look the other way while employees work off the clock, and sometimes it’s an honest mistake. But either way, your organization is liable.
So to reduce your risk, it’s important that you know what constitutes off the clock work and that you have a plan in place to prevent it from happening.
To help you recognize it, we’ve put together a list of some examples of how employees are working off the clock.
If an employee if working on a project and it’s not completed, they might take take it home and work from there—without counting the hours. Another example is returning work-related phone calls at home after their shift has ended.
Many jobs require employees to wear protective gear or uniforms. And if the employee has to wait at the beginning or end of their shift to receive or turn in the gear/uniform, they need to be paid for that time spent waiting.
Customers don’t always walk out of the store or end their conversation right when an employee’s shift ends. If the employee has to stay late to finish helping the customer, they must be paid for that time even though their shift ended.
If an employee comes in early to start their computer and read emails, that’s an example of working off the clock. It might seem like they’re only getting prepared for the day, but actually, they are working.
The same thing might happen at the end of the day. An employee might clock out but then continue to work by cleaning, finishing paperwork or making calls—all of which they need to be compensated for.
You can protect your company by maintaining compliance with federal wage and hour laws. And here are some strategies to help you.
Institute policies that clearly state working off the clock is not allowed. Make sure your guidelines are very clear and provide examples of what constitutes working off the clock so that there’s no questions or misinterpretations.
You can use wage and hour law training to help supervisors and managers understand what counts as off the clock work. It will also help them understand their responsibilities under federal and state wage and hour laws.
Limit access to technology so that non-exempt employees don’t work after hours. This way, they won’t be able to answer emails or access their work assignments once they’ve gone home for the day.
Don’t let employees stay in the office after their shift is over to “finish up” anything. Have supervisors and managers stay with employees to make sure they are clocked in while working. Also, be careful that hourly managers and supervisors don’t try to stay late either.
Staying late or coming in early aren’t the only times employee may try and work off the clock. They might use their lunch break as an opportunity to keep working. Make sure they aren’t by mandating that employees take breaks and lunches away from their desks.
Federal wage and hour laws mandate overtime for non-exempt employees that work more than 40 hours a week. It’s your responsibility to ensure that employees aren’t working off the clock. And you can stop them by setting clear policies, training supervisors, limiting access to technology and helping them adhere to their schedules.
We offer wage and hour training to help you educate your workforce. To learn more, request a demo today.
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