The term "off-the-clock" refers to the time spent in the context of a work-related activity where no compensation is provided. For example, off-the-clock time might include meetings, time spent driving from one work site to another, and work performed after the completion of a shift.
In some states, employees are legally entitled to payment for "off the clock" work performed in the scope of their employment. Courts in these states will normally allow employees to sue employers to recover hourly wages for off-the-clock time that included work-related activities.
What Are Some Examples of Compensable Off-the-Clock Work?
Time spent engaging in the following work-related activities can be compensable (something you should be paid for) even if those activities appear to have been done "off the clock":
- Traveling during work for a work-related activity
- Being on a restrictive "on call" time or "engaged to wait" for the employer’s benefit
- Any post- or pre-work job-related activities necessary to work performance
- Short "off the clock" rest periods (20 minutes or less in duration)
- Off the clock" meal breaks (less than 30 minutes in duration)
- Longer meal breaks, if the employee is "on duty" or otherwise not free to leave
Does Federal Law Protect Off the Clock Employees?
Under Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employers must compensate for non-exempt employees’ work time whether or not it is logged into the remote access clock-in system, a time card, or a sign-up sheet. Compensable work hours for an employee span from the employee’s first work-related activity on a work day to the last work-related activity that the employee completes on that work day.
Establishing a Claim Under the FLSA
To establish an "off the clock" claim," an employee must prove the following elements:
- The employee had worked "off the clock" hours for which he had not been credited
- The employer "suffered or permitted" employee’s work
- The employee suffered monetary damages (see below)
To prove uncompensated "off the clock" work, an employee may use the following to prove his claim:
- After-hours records such as phone calls, emails, and security camera captures
- Sign-in and sign-off records, including records of parking or building entry and exit
- Confirming stories from fellow employees who had observed "off the clock" work
Seeking an Attorney’s Help
Determining an employee’s compensable hours may involve a detailed assessment of the work environment. If you believe that your work is not being fairly compensated by your employer, you may need to seek advice from a qualified employment lawyer.