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California Employment Lawyers > Blog > Employment > Working Off the Clock? You Should Still be Paid for Your Time

Working Off the Clock? You Should Still be Paid for Your Time


The Fair Labor Standards Act says that all employees must be paid at least minimum wage, and time and half for any hours worked over 40 hours a week. This seems straightforward enough. But many employees don’t realize that they are actually working as far as the FLSA is concerned, even at times when the employee doesn’t realize he or she is working.

How Off the Clock Work Happens

This often happens when an employee’s shift is done, or when he or she has clocked out, but the employee is still required to do things for the employer. The employer doesn’t “count” these hours, because the employee is technically off the clock, but the FLSA does count them, because the employee is still doing work for the employer.

When the employer doesn’t count these hours, the employer believes that the employee has worked 40 hours, or less than 40 hours. But when you count the time the employee has worked off the clock, the actual working hours exceed 40 hours, thus entitling the employee to overtime pay.

Work Before or After Work

Often, employers will require employees to do things before or after they clock in or out. The employer often sees this as “prepping” for work, or doing finishing duties. Examples may be:

  • Loading objects or materials before starting work
  • Putting on uniforms, or protective gear needed for the job
  • Cleaning up the workspace or doing final reports
  • Going through security checks before leaving the work premises

Often, employers will require employees to do small, seemingly ministerial things off the clock. This may include returning calls, or picking things up for the office, or returning emails, or even doing light cleaning of the workspace.


Breaks like lunch breaks create problems. Employees generally don’t have to be paid for lunch breaks, and those hours don’t count towards the 40 hour limit—unless the employer is requiring the employee to do things during that time.

This often happens when the employer asks employees questions, or the employee works at his or her desk, doing work or answering calls while eating.

Travel Time

Your time traveling to and from work does not count towards the 40 hour limit. However, once you are at work, time spent traveling does count. So, if you travel between multiple locations, or if you leave the office to visit customers, or pick up supplies, your travel time is included as part of the 40 hours.

Volunteering to Work

Many employers believe that if the employee “volunteers” to do work off the clock (or at least, doesn’t complain about it) that the time doesn’t count. That’s just not true. Even employees who are being “good soldiers” by volunteering to do tasks or work off the clock, need to be paid.

Are you working but not getting paid for the time you’re working? The FLSA allows employees to recover significant damages when they aren’t paid for their time. Contact the San Jose employment lawyers at the Costanzo Law Firm today.




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