An employee works off-the-clock when they work before they clock in for the start of their day or after they clock out for the end of their day. Working off-the-clock can also occur when an employee clocks out for their meal period but performs work while they are clocked out. Employees must be paid for all work performed off-the-clock. An employer cannot have an employee work without pay before they clock in for the day, after they clock out for the day, or during their meal period after they have clocked out. Not paying employees for work done off-the-clock is illegal.
There are many examples of when an employee may perform work off the clock that should be compensated for but is not. Sometimes employees arrive to work early and see that their place of work is busy, they begin to work or perform a task to assist a co-worker before they go and sign in for the day. This work needs to be compensated. Another situation that occurs often is an employee arrives at work and on their way to sign in for the day they are asked by a co-worker or a manager to perform a task such as helping a customer or moving inventory. While this task may not take a long time, any time that an employee works they need to be compensated for.
Further, off-the-clock work can also occur when an employee is done for the day. Sometimes a retail salesperson will clock out for the day but there is a long line of customers at the register. The employee may then go and assist by waiting on customers after they had already signed out for the day. This work is work that needs to be compensated. Another example of work done after signing out may be a warehouse worker who signs out for the day. However, on their way out they notice a new shipment has arrived and they assist in moving items that were just delivered. Again, while this work may or may not take hours to complete, it is still time that needs to be compensated for by the employer.
Working during a lunch break is another very common way that employees perform work off-the-clock that is not paid for. One example may be a security guard working at a store. They have signed out for their lunch break and on the way out of the store are notified that there is a shoplifter that has just been apprehended. The guard now much assist in dealing with the shoplifter and does not have time to go and sign back in to work. If they are not compensated for this time it is illegal. Another example may be a hospital worker who signs out for lunch. They are just sitting down for their break when they are paged that there is an emergency that requires their immediate attention. The hospital worker does not have time to go and sign back in before they help with the emergency. This is again time that the worker needs to be compensated for because while they were signed out for lunch, they were in fact working. Another example of working through lunch could be a sales person in a cosmetics department. They have signed out for lunch and as they are going to their break a customer sees them and asks for their assistance. Not wanting to be rude to the customer, the employee assists the customer. This is work time that is off-the-clock that needs to be compensated. These are just a few examples of work that could be done off-the-clock during a meal period that an employer must compensate an employee for. Finally, it is not uncommon for retail stores that are very busy to page an employee who is in the break room and ask them to come out to the floor and assist. Again, while the employee may be signed out at this time, they still need to be compensated for any work that they perform while signed out.
Another scenario in which employees perform work off-the-clock that needs to be compensated for is when they are told they must sign in to work no sooner than a certain time or sign out of work no later than a certain time. Sometimes employers have a policy that an employee cannot sign into work any sooner than 5 or 10 minutes before the start of their shift. However, if an employee arrives earlier than that and begins working then they need to be compensated for this time. It does not matter that the employer has a policy in place, if they have reason to believe that the employee is performing work off-the-clock then that is work that must be compensated. Similarly, if an employee is forced to sign out no later than a certain time but has to continue working to complete their assignments for the day then this is work that they must be compensated for. A policy stating time frames in which employees can sign in or must sign out does not mean that work performed outside of those times then can not be compensated for. Any work performed by an employee that benefits the employer must be compensated for regardless of if it is off-the-clock or not.
Finally, sometimes employees will go home and come back and perform work off-the-clock when their workplace is closed or slower. Again, this is work that must be compensated for. Some examples of that are an office worker at a car dealership who may go home but then comes back to complete paperwork on car sales that needs to be done for the next day. Another example could be a maintenance worker who comes back later to clean and organize an area that they were not able to complete during their assigned working hours. Again, this is time that an employee must be compensated for.
While some employees may think that some work done off-the-clock either before their shift, after their shift or during a meal break is minimal work that they may not have to be paid for, that is not true. This is work that the employee has a right to be paid for and if they are not the employer is illegally not paying them for all time that they work.
Free Case Review
Call today to discuss your case at 1-800-LOST-JOB (1-800-567-8562) or 1-877-4WAGESLAW (1-877-492-4375) . We offer two convenient locations to serve in close proximity to New Jersey, Queens County, Bronx County and Manhattan.