Employment Law Blog

News, trends and analysis in employment law and HR

Aug 19, 2014

Failing to pay for pre-shift meetings carries a $600K price tag

Wage and Hour 

An oil company has agreed to pay $619,830 in back wages and overtime after investigators from the U.S. Department of Labor discovered the company failed to pay employees for mandatory pre-shift safety meetings that lasted 30 minutes.

An oil company has agreed to pay $619,830 in back wages and overtime after investigators from the U.S. Department of Labor discovered the company failed to pay employees for mandatory pre-shift safety meetings that lasted 30 minutes. Because the time spent in these meetings benefitted the employer and was required, the employees should have been compensated for this time. 

Tips: For work-related activities that occur outside the normal shift, employees must be paid for all activities that are integral and indispensable to their work, unless the amount of time and effort involved is very small (such as turning off a light switch and locking a door). An activity is likely to be considered compensable if it:

• Benefits an employer in the operation of its business;
• Requires significant time, concentration and/or physical exertion; or
• Is required by the employer or the employee has little choice in complying.


At Vigilant we know whether or not an activity is compensable will be based on specific facts and circumstances. Supervisors should be trained to look for activities happening outside of an employee’s shift and to ensure the activities aren’t work-related. If a supervisor is aware that an employee is performing work-related activities outside of the shift, then the company is responsible for paying wages.

If you happen to have any employees residing on the work premises, make sure to establish which hours are paid and which hours are not. Just like pre-shift meetings, the people in charge need to be aware of which hours the employees are working to compensate them accordingly.

See our Legal Guide, “Compensation for Pre-Shift and Post-Shift Activities” (1179), and contact your Vigilant staff representative for help in determining whether an activity should be paid or not. For unlimited counsel on wage and hour issues, consider a membership with Vigilant with a flat monthly fee. We are here to worry about your legal questions so you don’t have to.

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