A recent Department of Labor investigation against a Municipal Sheriff’s Department illustrates how requiring employees to perform work-related activities prior to “clocking in” violates the unpaid overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The Sheriff’s Department required its deputies to attend meetings at the start and end of the workday, but did not include this time in calculating the number of hours the deputies worked. As a result of the DOL investigation into this practice, the Sheriff’s Department is now faced with compensating its deputies with hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid overtime. Many employers require employees to attend meetings, fill out paperwork, or put on or remove safety equipment at the start and end of the workday, but do not include the time the employees spend engaging in these activities as time spent working. Under federal law, however, these activities are deemed to be compensable time and should be included in the calculation of the total hours an employee works. Because the federal FLSA requires an employer to pay an employee “time and a half” for each hour worked more than forty (40) in a workweek, many employees who are required to perform work-related activities before and after going “on the clock” are entitled to overtime pay.
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