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July 13, 2010
Compensable Work Under the Fair Labor Standards Act

In a BLR webinar entitled "Off-the-Clock? How to Determine When Time Worked is Compensable Under Federal Law," Catherine Moreton Gray, Esq., an associate at Robinson and Cole LLP described what is compensable under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

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  • Under the FLSA, employees must be paid at least the minimum wage for all hours worked.
  • Hours worked includes all time that an employee is "suffered or permitted" to work.
  • Hours worked includes all time that employees spend engaged in the principal activities they are paid to perform.
  • There is no limit on the number of hours employees may work, but there must be overtime for hours worked over 40 in a week.
  • As a general rule, work time begins when the employee begins doing activities on the employer's behalf.
  • Work time is not defined by the hours an employee is scheduled to work.

An example might be when an employee is told working overtime is not allowed. So that employee may "clock out" after 40 hours, but out of dedication continues to work off-the-clock to complete a project or tie up loose ends. Were an audit to take place, that time would be compensable even if the employee stayed late voluntarily.

Catherine Moreton Gray, Esq. is an associate at Robinson and Cole LLP ( She has more than 20 years experience in human resources and employment law. Her practice is focused on advising employers on all aspects of the employment relationship, including representing employers in government audits, before administrative agencies and in federal and state courts.

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