When to pay for post-shift activities?
Q: If an employee clocks out, but then performs a brief, work-related task, do we have to pay for the time it took to complete that task?
A: Maybe. Generally, you must pay an employee for all pre-shift and post-shift activities that are an integral part of the job. However, if the activity is considered “de minimis,” then you don’t need to compensate an employee for that time. The problem with applying this rule is that de minimis isn’t defined in the regulations anywhere and courts have applied it differently.
In a recent case, one employer considered its employees’ post-shift activity of loading information onto a company computer and verifying transmittal of data, to be de minimis. But the court closely examined how long the transmittal took on different days, noting that some days it took only a few minutes but other times, when the company’s servers weren’t working, it could take fifteen or twenty minutes. Taken as a whole, the court determined that the post-shift activities were more than de minimis because of the amount of time it could, and often did, take the employee to complete the task (Rutti v. Lojack Corp., Inc., 9th Cir, March 2010).
Need more information on this topic? Check out our Legal Guide, “Compensation for Pre-Shift and Post-Shift Activities” (1179), and call your Vigilant staff representative with specific questions.