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February 26, 2010
Attorneys Discuss the Meaning of ‘Hours Worked’

In a BLR webinar entitled "Wage & Hour Risks in 2010: Preventing the Most Common (and Costly) Wage & Hour Mistakes," attorneys Mark E. Tabakman and Thomas C. Wigand discussed the topic of hours worked in the context of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and state laws. They recommended that employers refer to local and state law for specific “hours of work” requirements.

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The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not specifically define "hours worked" or place a limit on the number of hours an employee may work. This act requires only that overtime be paid for any hours worked over 40.

Generally speaking, work time includes all time that employees spend engaged in the principal activities that they are employed to perform.

Beyond FLSA, employers should check the laws of the states in which they operate, as they may include "hours of work" requirements that are stricter. In these cases, employers must follow the law that is most favorable to the employee.

Mark E. Tabakman, Esq., is a partner in the nationwide law firm Fox Rothschild, LLP. He can be contacted by e-mail at

Thomas C. Wigand, SPHR, Esq., is the founder of Wigand Associates LLP, an employment advisory consulting practice based in Middletown, Rhode Island. He can be contracted by visiting

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