I received this question about off-the-clock work from a client who subscribes to my HR HelpLine service. Here is the client’s question and my advice:
Client Question: On occasions, some of my employees complete work assignments at home. In addition, most of them regularly check their smartphones for emails and take phone calls from me, other managers or even clients. Am I required to pay my hourly employees for this time?
Answer: Yes. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employers are required to compensate hourly, nonexempt workers for all work performed, including such “off the clock” work. And, if the total hours worked (regular and off duty) exceeds 40 hours worked, you must pay overtime. You have no obligation to compensate your exempt workers.
It is not uncommon, particularly with good dedicated workers, to find that they put in additional hours beyond their normal work days. This is good for the company and under the law, nonexempts must be compensated for that. Secondly, because of technology, employers have come to expect employees to check smartphones and laptops for emails and texts and to remain in communication during after hour periods and weekends. Again, employers are obligated to compensate nonexempts for all hours worked—whether it is required or not, and even if the employee fails to report it. If an employer has reason to believe it occurred, they should address it with the employee and compensate the employee.
Clearly communicate with your employees that if they work “off the clock,” they are to record these hours and you will compensate them for it.
Is that the policy in your company? How do you handle “off the clock work”? Please comment below.
If you have employee questions, call our HR HelpLine. I provide operational advice, not legal advice, on how to address difficult employee issues.