BCN Services

Time is Money: What is Compensable Time?

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Working outside of one’s scheduled work time without compensation is generally known as “working” off- the-clock. The United States Department of Labor (DOL) recognizes off-the-clock work as one of the most common violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

The Fair Labor Standards Act provides information about the type of work for which an employee must be compensated. Under the FLSA, a work day begins when an employee starts his or her “principal activity,” and ends when finishing the last principal activity of the day. The FLSA definition of a work day may be longer than an employee’s scheduled shift or normal office hours.

Listed below are some of the more common off-the-clock violations:

  • Requiring employees to work extra hours without pay.
  • Requiring employees to perform work before or after they clock in for their shift.
  • Failing to pay employees for the entire time they are performing work, not just the time they are “clocked in.”
  • Automatically deducting a meal period from an employee’s hours when no meal period was actually taken.
  • Deducting break time(s) from an employees work hours.
  • Requesting that employees work on the weekend without clocking in.
  • Failing to compensate employees who bring work home and continue to work outside of their “regular” workday.
  • Failure to pay employees for pre- and post-shift work. These activities involve “donning” (putting on) or “doffing” (taking off) protective equipment or uniforms.

Our advice is to not leave employees guessing about your Company’s policy on off-the-clock work. Make it clear that off-the-clock work is not permitted and that there may be disciplinary action for it. Set up a process encouraging employees to report off-the-clock work to the HR Department without fear of retaliation.

The policy should give clear instruction to employees, as an employer’s effort to prevent off-the-clock work will be a key element of its affirmative defense of an off-the-clock work claim.

As always, it is imperative to know and understand all of the regulations that apply to your business at all levels: federal, state, and local. Failure to know and apply these regulations can lead to hefty fines.

BCN Services’ Human Resource Department  is available to you to help in implementing a compensable time policy, if you do not currently have one in place. Call us at 1-800-891-9911 or visit us at

Kate Douglass (200x174)

Kate Douglass, Senior HR Specialist