Federal law requires New York employers to pay their employees for all time spent under the employer’s control and while working in the employer’s interests. This includes the time that the employee isn’t performing job duties. Depending on the state, there may be exceptions to this rule, such as one unpaid meal break lasting at least 30 minutes during a six-hour shift.
The Fair Labor Standards Act was initially enacted in 1938. It requires all employees who are not exempt to be paid at least the federal hourly minimum wage, as well as overtime pay for any time worked over 40 hours during a work week. Some employees are on-call at times, such as on the weekends. This is not time under the employer’s control since they are free to do as they wish with enough time for personal activities, except while answering the call. Another example of off-duty time is a split shift. This means that they work for a certain amount of time in the morning, they are relieved of their duties, and they know exactly what time to come back in the evening.
Some businesses, such as restaurants, experience slow times. The employees must be paid for the time they are actively doing work and for the time they are not performing tasks but are still under the control of their employer. This means that even when waitstaff members have no customers to serve, they must be paid until they are allowed to leave for a substantial amount of time.
The U.S. Department of Labor is tasked with the job of enforcing the Fair Labor Standards Act. People who believe that they have been illegally denied pay may want to discuss their options with an employment law attorney.