Working off the clock leads to wage and hour disputes

The Fair Labor Standards Act protects workers from employers who may otherwise take advantage of them through wage theft. FLSA establishes a 40-hour work week, after which time an employee should be paid overtime wages. However, sometimes, Tennessee employers try to skirt the FLSA by requiring employees to work off the clock. This frequently leads to wage and hour disputes.

Hours off the clock do not count toward a worker's accumulated weekly time, which means it may deprive employees of overtime pay they are due. Even if a manager does not require an employee to work before clocking in, the manager may still be guilty of wage theft if he or she permits an employee to do tasks off the clock for which the employee should be compensated. Even if these jobs are done because a worker is ambitious or wants to help fellow workers, allowing work off the clock is in violation of FLSA.

Sometimes, an employer will require workers to arrive early to set up equipment before a shift begins or to stay later to clean up a job site. Other common examples of working off the clock include requiring a worker to complete paperwork after clocking out or making a worker redo a project or correct errors without compensation. According to FLSA, these are unlawful, and the employee may be able to claim substantial damages if the employer committed intentional wage theft.

Tennessee employers should have clear written policies preventing workers from working off the clock. Both workers and managers can prevent these types of wage and hour disputes by having a good understanding of the FLSA and their rights and responsibilities. Workers who have been required to perform duties off the clock have the right to seek legal guidance about pursuing back pay.

Source: FindLaw, "Is it Illegal to Work 'Off the Clock?'", Accessed on April 21, 2018

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