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All in a Day's Work
BakeMag.com, Oct. 24, 2012
by Staff

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A common phrase that employees hear is “on the clock.” As a bakery owner or manager, you want to make sure that you and your employees are on the same page as to what constitutes a work day — what is considered compensable. Take a minute to review these tips from a fact sheet provided by the US Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division.

Definition of “employ”
By statutory definition the term “employ” includes “to suffer or permit to work.” The workweek ordinarily includes all time during which you require employees to be on the premises, on duty or at a prescribed work place. “Workday,” in general, means the period between the time on any particular day when employees commence their principal activity and the time on that day at which they stop. The workday might be longer than the scheduled shift, hours or production time.

Application of principles
Work that is not requested but suffered or permitted to be performed is work time that you must pay for. For example, an employee may voluntarily continue to work at the end of the shift to finish an assigned task or to correct errors. The reason is immaterial. The hours are work time and are compensable.

Waiting time
Whether waiting time is considered hours worked depends upon the circumstance. Generally, an employee might be “engaged to wait” (which is work time) or “waiting to be engaged” (which is not work time). For example, a fireman who plays checkers while waiting for an alarm is working during a period of inactivity and is “engaged to wait.”

On-call time
An employee who is required to remain on call on the employer’s premises is working while on call. An employee who is required to remain on call at home, or who is allowed to leave a message where he/she can be reached, is not working (in most cases) while on call. Additional constraints on the employee’s freedom could require this time to be compensated.

Rest and meal periods
Short rest periods, usually 20 minutes or less, are common — and promote efficiency. They are customarily paid for as working time and must be counted as hours worked. Unauthorized extensions of work breaks don’t have to be counted as hours worked if you have clearly communicated that the authorized break may only last for a specific length of time, and that any extension of the break is against company policy, and any extension of the break will be punished.

Meal periods (typically 30 minutes or more) generally don’t need to be compensated as work time. The employee must be completely relieved from duty for the purpose of eating regular meals. The employee is not relieved if he/she is required to perform any duties, whether active or inactive, while eating.

Lectures, meetings and training programs

Attendance at lectures, meetings, training programs and similar activities need not be counted as working time only if four criteria are met: It is outside normal hours, it is voluntary, not job related, and no other work is concurrently performed.

Source: US Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division, Fact Sheet #22

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