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  • Written by Steel Rose

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FSLA), employers must compensate hourly  employees for the time they work and pay time and a half for working more than 40 hours in a work week. But what’s “work time?” Generally, this means hours spent predominantly for the employer’s benefits. Examine your business practices to see whether you’re required to compensate hourly employees for various activities. Here are some examples.

Clocking in and out

In most companies, it takes a few moments for hourly employees to clock in and out of work each day. However, at Amazon, and in similar situations, warehouse employees must pass through security lines for this task. The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously held that this added time—about 25 minutes in the Amazon warehouse situation—is not work time; employees are not compensated for this.

Time off for breaks and meals

Rest periods are counted as “work time” if they last 20 minutes or less. But meal periods running at least 30 minutes are not work time requiring compensation as long as the employee is completely off duty for this time. If employees skip meal breaks, they have to be paid.


Attendance at lectures, meetings, training programs, and similar activities does not count as work time if all of the following conditions are met:

  1. Attendance is outside the employee’s regular working hours
  2. Attendance is voluntary
  3. The course, lecture, or meeting is not directly related to the employee’s job
  4. The employee does not perform any productive work during such attendance.

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