As we often say – managing a workforce is challenging even in the best of circumstances. It’s even more challenging if one doesn’t fully understand employment laws as they relate to compensation.
Let’s look at a few examples…
Should you be paying your employees for time spent traveling to work? How about if an employee of yours is placed “on call?” And what about meal breaks? Should they be paid during those times?
Not sure of the answers? This information should help:
- Travel Time as Hours Worked (For Non-Exempt, Hourly Employees)
- Commute Time
- Generally, not compensable. Exception would be if employee is required to report to a work location or leave from a work location which is beyond their normal commute, in which case only the additional commute time would be compensable.
- If an employee is required to report to a meeting place where he or she is to pick up materials, equipment or other employees or to receive instructions before traveling to the worksite, then compensable time starts at the meeting place.
- Travel During the Workday
- The general rule is that time spent by an employee in travel as part of the employee’s regular workday must be considered hours worked. The key is whether the employee is engaged in travel as part of the employer’s principal activity.
- Call Back or Emergency Calls
- Regular home-to-work travel on callbacks is not considered compensable time
- Home-to-work travel is compensable if an employee is called at home after completing a day’s work and required to travel a “substantial distance” to perform the emergency job.
- Out of Town Travel
- Travel time between the employee’s home and the airport or railroad station is considered home-to-work travel time and not compensable.
- All travel time that occurs during the employee’s regular working hours is considered compensable working time.
- If the travel occurs during normal working hours on non-workdays, the time is compensable.
- The U.S. Dept. of Labor does not count as working time any overnight travel that occurs outside of an employee’s regular working hours as a passenger on an airplane, train, or other method of public transportation where the employee is free to use the time as he or she chooses and he/she performs no work.
- Waiting Time
- Not compensable if:
- Employee is completely relieved from duty and allowed to leave the job; or
- Employee is relieved until a definite, specified time; and
- The relief period is long enough for the employee to use the time as he/she sees fit.
- Not compensable if employee arrives early to work and waits before starting duties.
- Compensable if employee reports to work on time but must wait for work to be provided.
- On Call Time
- Compensable if such time is spent “predominantly for the employer’s benefit” and significant restrictions are imposed on the employee (i.e., employee is required to wait by a designated phone or only be in one location)
- On-call pay must be included in employee’s regular rate of pay.
- Meal and Break Periods
- Under Connecticut law, employers are required to give a meal break of at least 30 consecutive minutes to any non-exempt employee who works seven and one-half or more consecutive hours (with limited exceptions including when there are less than five employees working a particular shift or function).
- The meal break must occur after the first two hours of work and before the last two. Employees and employers may also enter into a written agreement providing a different schedule for the break period than the statute provides.
- The meal break does not need to be paid unless work is performed.
- Employee must be free to leave the work area for break period not to be counted as hours worked.
If you are an employer and find yourself struggling to understand the laws regarding employee compensation, consider calling on the attorneys at Kainen, Escalera & McHale in Connecticut. We do one thing, and one thing alone – we are a Connecticut employer defense law firm – we work to protect and defend the interests of employers throughout the region. What’s more, each of our Connecticut attorneys has over 20 years of experience in employment law and labor law matters and can provide your business with comprehensive legal counsel ranging from assistance with necessary preventive measures to trial advocacy. Please contact us if we can help you.
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