All of the time employees spend at work doesn’t necessarily fit their job descriptions. Sometimes employees have to wait around for instructions. They might have to run errands in their car. And some employees can go about with their normal business while on-call.
While this time hardly feels like work, since it’s time spent for the benefit of the employer and required by the employer, it technically is work. This makes it paid work time.
Paid Work Time
When an employee is “suffered or permitted to work” then the employee must be paid for that time.
“The FLSA defines the term “employ” to include the words “suffer or permit to work”. Suffer or permit to work means that if an employer requires or allows employees to work they are employed and the time spent is probably hours worked”
This time includes the time spent at work doing their jobs as well time like:
- Waiting time
- On call time
- Travel time or drive time
- Time spent in meetings
- Time spent in training
In some industries, employees can’t do their job without certain tools or without access to certain areas. When employees must wait for these things, even while not doing their normal job, their employer must pay them. Some employers think employees shouldn’t get paid to sit around, but if they were scheduled for work, they need to be paid.
Waiting hours must be paid when the length of waiting time is not long enough for an employee to engage in his or her own activities. For example, if an employee has to wait for equipment to be fixed while at work and cannot reasonably go home or out to lunch in the meantime, he needs to be paid to stand around and wait.
“For example, a secretary who reads a book while waiting for dictation or a fireman who plays checkers while waiting for an alarm is working during such periods of inactivity.” – dol.gov
Time spent traveling from one job site to another is work time. Time spent running work-related errands also falls under this category.
On Call Time
Time on-call while on the employer’s premises is paid time, even if the employee is doing nothing other than waiting for a call. On-call time which is away from the place of employment but involves “constraints on the employee’s freedom” is also paid time. Read more about it here.
Training and Meetings
Mandatory training or education courses are compensable if they are not-voluntary and they are job related. When meetings do not fall within regular working hours they need to be paid (in cash, not in pizza!)
Set Up Different Pay Rates for Different Tasks
With Timesheets.com software you can setup all of these categories as different tasks. You can assign them different pay rates too. This makes it really easy to keep track of different types of work time. Then you can pay employees the rates you think is fair for each. For example, employers often pay employees a lower rate for travel time. The rates need to be at least minimum wage and agreeable with your employees. However, paying multiple rates for different job types is acceptable.