Many employees are required to perform duties for work before the start of their paid shift. Whether or not you have to be paid for this time depends on whether these duties are essential to performing the principal activity of your job. Courts have interpreted what it means for a duty to be essential to the principal duties of a job in a number of ways, but, in general, a “principal activity” is one that you cannot perform your job without first completing.

You should be paid for this time. This is true even if this work occurs prior to when you punch in for your shift, and in some instances, even if the work is completed away from the job site.

Examples of compensable pre-shift work can include:

– Logging into computer systems;
– Putting on protective clothing that is unique to your job and must be put on at the worksite;
– Performing safety inspections;
– Cleaning machines;
– Roll call periods;
– Awaiting assignments;
– Performing work on a laptop or cell phone prior to driving to the worksite;
– Loading or unloading equipment.

Beyond this, in most situations, once you begin performing compensable work, you generally are considered to be working under the continuous workday rule. In other words, once you start doing compensable work, you start getting paid, and do not stop getting paid until you are relieved of all work. The same analysis holds true at the end of your shift. If you must continue to perform duties that are essential to your job even after you stop getting paid for your work, you may be entitled to additional compensation.

If you believe that you have not been compensated for all of your work, please call Hawks Quindel, S.C. to speak with an experienced wage and hour attorney.

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Bill Parsons