Four tips to avoid Fair Labor Standards Act disputes

by on April 2, 2009 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: HR Info Center

Know what is and isn’t compensable under FLSA guidelines

Many Fair Labor Standards Act disputes begin when an employer and an employee disagree about which activities the employee performed – and when he performed them.

Here are four tips to help you avoid such disagreements in the future:

  1. Document every employee’s “principal activities.” You don’t have to pay employees for the time they spend commuting to and from work. But you must pay for any work that benefits the company – a worker’s “principal activities” – regardless of when or where that work is performed.
  2. Pay for protective clothing changes. Recently, a court ruled that employers don’t have to pay workers under FLSA guidelines for donning goggles and hard hats (because it only takes a few seconds).
    However, if employees require protective clothing, you must pay for their changing time. If changing is only a convenience to employees – not a clear safety concern – you don’t have to pay. Example: it’s not compensable when a worker changes into old jeans for a job that will get her street clothes dirty. But it is compensable when she changes into protective gear to guard against chemical spills or injuries.
  3. Be sure employees don’t work during meal breaks. You don’t have to pay for employee meal periods if they’re 30 minutes or longer, as long as employees are completely relieved from their jobs during the breaks.
  4. Keep records of employees’ hours. Even when careless employees don’t punch the time clock correctly, it’s the employer’s responsibility to track and document hours worked. A sworn statement from an employee is all that’s required to show the number of overtime hours worked under the Fair Labor Standards Act – unless his employer can prove otherwise


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