Laws Protect Employees From Working “Off-The-Clock” Without Compensation
California and federal laws prohibit employers from requiring employees to work “off the clock.” Off-the-clock work includes anything that falls within the legal definition of “work” where the employer fails to record the time worked and the employee is not compensated. Employers are liable to compensate for any off-the-clock work employees perform that the employer either knew or should have known about.
Common Examples of Off-The-Clock Work
Off-the-clock work often involves work or work related activities done before or after clocking in or clocking out. Some typical examples include:
- Answering or responding to calls or emails after work hours
- Uploading or downloading data or reports
- Putting or taking off uniforms at work (donning and doffing)
- Taking care of / laundering uniforms
- Unpaid errands or trips
California labor law defines “hours worked” as “the time during which an employee is subject to the control of an employer, and includes all the time the employee is suffered or permitted to work, whether or not required to do so.” Hours worked can extend beyond an employee’s scheduled shift, and includes pre- and post-shift duties. California law requires employees to compensate employees for all hours worked that the employer knows or should know about.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires employers to pay for all hours worked, whether or not those hours are properly recorded on time cards or time sheets. Under the FLSA, the work day starts when an employee starts their first work-related activity, and ends when they finish their last work-related activity of the day.
What Can I Recover If My Employer Requires Me To Work Off-The-Clock?
California law allows employees to recover the value of their unpaid wages earned for off-the-clock work, plus attorney fees and “liquidated damages” equal to the minimum wage for the uncompensated time worked.