Overview: Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) regulations require employers to pay nonexempt employees at least the minimum wage for all hours worked. Usually, it's fairly simple to determine what counts as working hours. If an employee is at a desk filling out paperwork or on an assembly line manufacturing goods, then that time obviously counts as hours worked.
But there are many situations in which it is not quite so simple to figure out whether time counts as hours worked. What if an employee is taking a rest break, with her feet up on her desk? What if an employee is on call and must be ready to return to the office with little notice? What if an employee is traveling to a sales meeting in another city? What if an employee is attending a training session in the office? The answer: under the FLSA, it depends on the circumstances.
Trends: One of the most frequently litigated issues under the FLSA is whether activities that employees perform before and after a shift (known as preliminary and postlminary activities) are compensable. Meat- and poultry-processing companies are a frequent target of lawsuits alleging that employees should be paid for activities such as putting on protective gear before a shift, but these arguments could be extended to a variety of industries.
Author: Michael Cardman, Legal Editor
Updated to reflect IRS final regulations defining 'spouse' for federal tax and benefits purposes.
This chart summarizes state "show-up time" or "reporting time" laws requiring payment to employees who report for duty but are not provided work.
As a result of new regulations that take effect December 1, 2016, it is likely that some employees who are currently exempt from the overtime requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) will be reclassified as nonexempt.This Quick Reference chart provides details about the differences in workplace practices regarding employees classified as exempt or nonexempt.
Updated to reflect information on a federal appeals court's ruling that employers have an obligation to exercise 'reasonable diligence' to find out whether their employees are working off the clock.
In Craig v. Bridges Bros. Trucking LLC, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals joined three other circuits in ruling that an employer has an obligation to exercise reasonable diligence to find out whether its employees are working more than 40 hours in a workweek.
Updated guidance to reflect the forthcoming FLSA overtime requirements, announced on May 18, 2016.
Updated to include information on a California appellate court ruling that clarifies the criteria for departure from the preferred scheduling of rest breaks.
In Corbin v. Time Warner, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals held that a neutral rounding policy will not violate the FLSA even if every employee does not always gain or break even over every pay period.
Updated to refine the scope of coverage to include only breastfeeding break laws that apply to private employers.
HR guidance on complying with the FLSA hours worked requirements.