Far too often, employers find themselves in the position of unknowingly violating the law as it relates to compensating their employees. Similarly, it is critical for employees to understand what their rights under federal and state law and how much they should be earning. Unfortunately, the complicated and often dynamic nature of federal and state law can render understanding labor law exceedingly challenging for both employers and employees. One such complex issue is determining whether a worker should be compensated as an on-call employee.
On-call time is where an employee is not technically working but is still compensated because he or she is considered to be “on-call.” Determining whether an one should be classified as an on-call employee can be challenging insofar as it is a query that is dependent on a number of very specific variables. Indeed, making this issue even more difficult is the fact that there is no bright line rule for determining whether an on-call employee must be paid for on-call time.
Both federal (FLSA) and state (NYCRR) law call for employees to be compensated while they are on-call at their place of employment or at a place required by the employer. What happens however, when an employee is not required to be in a certain place while on-call. The answer in part, is dependent on for whom the employees use of time benefits. In other words, who benefits more from the time the employee spends on-call, the employee or the employer. This is not a straight forward inquiry, however. Moreover, this is not the only inquiry that is necessary to determine whether an employee should be compensated for time spent on-call. This determination turns on several other significant variables.
If you have questions regarding on-call time, or other labor and/or employment law related questions, call Gilbert Law Group today at (631)630-0100, and speak to one of our qualified and knowledgeable attorneys.
The Department of Labor (DOL) has issued new guidelines, Administrator’s Interpretation 2015-1 detailing its interpretation of the “economic realities” test as it relates to the misclassification of workers. The guidance expands on the six factors in the test, emphasizing that the main issue is whether the worker is “economically dependent on the employer or truly in business for him or herself.” The vague definition of “employ” found in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) combined with the totality of the circumstances considered in the test means that most workers are considered employees, the DOL commented. The expansive reading of what constitutes an employee will likely generate an increase not only in DOL oversight but worker lawsuits as well. The DOL has been cracking down on worker misclassification by issuing severe penalties on employer’s who label a worker as an independent contractor rather than an employee for the consequential tax benefits. So how does one determine whether a worker is an employee or independent contractor?
“In sum, most workers are employees under the FLSA’s broad definitions,” the DOL said. “The very broad definition of employment under the FLSA as ‘to suffer or permit to work’ and the Act’s intended expansive coverage for workers must be considered when applying the economic realities factors to determine whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor. The factors should not be analyzed mechanically or in a vacuum, and no single factor, including control, should be over-emphasized. Instead, each factor should be considered in light of the ultimate determination of whether the worker is really in business for him or herself (and thus is an independent contractor) or is economically dependent on the employer (and thus its employee). The factors should be used as guides to answer that ultimate question of economic dependence.”
The six factor test is complex, and many times whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor can turn on several variables. For help navigating through issues related to worker misclassification and whether a worker is an employee or independent contractor, call Gilbert Law Group today at (631)630-0100.
The decades-long battle for pay during down time or time employees prepare to work, wait to work, or wait to leave work continues. Whether working to wait before leaving for the day or waiting to work before clocking in are instances of paid time is the issue. U.S. Supreme Court justices expressed doubts recently during arguments over whether federal law requires that workers be paid for the time they take to go through security checkpoints to prevent employee theft at Amazon. Previously, the Supreme Court held that employees must be paid for the time they take to put on protective gear, but not for the waiting time associated with taking it off. Also, the Court has ruled that butchers must be paid for the time it takes to sharpen their knives as it is an essential duty to working at a meatpacking plant.
This most recent dispute involves two former employees at a Nevada warehouse who claim that their employer, Integrity Staffing Solutions, Inc., required them to wait up to 25 minutes in security lines at the end of every shift. Integrity provides workers who fill customer orders for Amazon at warehouses. The intermediate appeals court had ruled that the work was payable as the anti-theft screenings were necessary to the workers’ primary work at the warehouse, and it was done for the employer’s benefit. However, certain Supreme Court justices disagreed with the workers’ attorney who argued that the work was compensable under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), as walking through security was a principal activity of the employees’ job duties.
Chief Justice Roberts responded, “But no one’s principal activity is going through security screenings.It may be part of that… but that doesn’t make it a principal activity.” Justice Scalia opined that the security check “is not indispensable to [the warehouse work].” In reply, the workers’ attorney argued that the screening was a “discrete act” that only occurred after the workers had clocked out and handed in their tools. He stated, “It’s work because you are told to do it.”
The Obama administration is siding with the employer. The Justice Department attorney argued that the security screenings were not “integral and indispensable to the workers’ jobs.”
It will be interesting to see how the Supreme Court decides this hot-button workplace wage issue. Stay tuned.
Should you have wage and hour questions or issues, please contact the Gilbert Law Group: 631.630.0100.