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In my last post I stated that I would follow up with some of the pitfalls in complying with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Because the law and its regulations are so vast, I’ve decided to follow up with a series of posts in order not to overwhelm readers in one sitting. In this post, I’m going to focus on the way in which employers treat time as work hours and how this is can be a costly pitfall.
The Basic Premise of Working Time under the FLSA
First, let’s start with the basic premise of what constitutes work time under the FLSA. In simple terms, work time is any time an employee engages in work-related activities and a benefit is conferred upon the employer as a result of the employee’s activities. Therefore, it doesn’t matter if the employer approved the work time for the employee or not. Under the law, the employer is obligated to pay an employee for work time, approved or not, if the employer knew or should have known that the employee was working. Keep in mind that this rule applies only to non-exempt employees. This is the category of employees who are entitled to overtime when they exceed the regular work hours’ threshold, usually set at 40 hours in a work week. This, too, is often a pitfall because oftentimes employees are misclassified as exempt when they should be non-exempt based the actual job duties performed. But in the event an employee is properly classified as non-exempt and thus entitled to receive overtime for hours worked in excess of 40 hours in a work week, it is imperative that employers track and record working time accurately.
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