Under the Fair Labor Standards Act and other labor law protections in America, employees are required to be compensated for their work. These labor laws serve two main functions when it comes to ensuring that workers are fairly compensated. First, the labor laws set a federal minimum wage to ensure that people are not paid below a certain level. Second, the laws mandate that if an employee works more than 40 hours per week, that employee be paid overtime. There are certain exemptions to this rule for salaried employees, but in general the rule is that if you work over 40 hours in a one week period, you must be paid time and a half. In some states, this rule is even more stringent and overtime kicks in if you work more than eight hours in a single day.
One of the confusing questions that often arise when determining whether you are being paid fairly is, what is “work?” For example, if your boss calls you at home on a Sunday to explain how to work the computer, and you spend a half hour on the phone with him, does that constitute work? What about if you are expected to be ready and signed on to the phone system or cash register when your shift begins and it takes you 10 minutes to get logged in and to that point- does the ten minutes you spend every day count as work? What if you show up for a shift when you weren’t scheduled, clock in and work the whole shift? Should you be paid overtime for that time? Ask an unpaid wages lawyer.
The answer is yes- all of the above examples constitute work that you should be paid for, according to The U.S. Department of Labor. In fact, if those minutes or hours that you spend doing those activities push you over 40 hours per week, you must be paid overtime. If your employer fails to compensate you for these activities, they could be liable for back pay and penalties, should you elect to sue them.
Generally, according to the Fair Labor Standards Act, any time that you spend doing job related activities, or activities designed to benefit your employer, is considered work. This includes any time when you are required to be on the premises, including breaks (but not generally including meals). It also includes voluntary or required work done either at work or, away from the premises, according to 29 CFR 785.12. It even includes work that the employer did not authorize or ask you to do. The language used in the Fair Labor Standards Act section 29 CFR 785.11 states that work is “work” if the employer “suffered or permitted” the worker to do it. That means if the employer knew you were doing the work and didn’t stop you, they have to pay you for it, even if they didn’t ask for or authorize it.
If your employer fails to pay you for all of the time you spend at work, you may be entitled to back pay. You can discuss this with a qualified labor law attorney who may be able to help you get the money you are owed. Contact The Rasansky Law Firm at 1-877-405-4313 or complete our free evaluation form today!