by Sunburst Software Solutions, Inc.
Archives by Month

Are You Unknowingly Violating the Fair Labor Standards Act?

Print Friendly

Common everyday business practices result in unpaid “work” hours that 70% of employers have no idea are unlawful, but do in fact, violate the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

time and moneyBelow are 5 example of what is considered to be a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act:

Punching in early (or punching out late) – for example an employee punches in 15 minutes before starting time.

If you are audited, you would have to prove that employee who punched in early was not working.  The Department of Labor assumes that an employee who has punched in is working.

Downtime – for example an employee’s normal workday starts at 9, but they have a long drive and have to drop children off in two different places, so they end up getting into work at 7:30, has breakfast at their desk and reads the newspaper.

If the phone rings and the employee answers the phone; or if they suddenly remember “something” that they must attend to and pull a file so they don’t forget; the Department of Labor considers them to be working and must be paid for the hour or portion of an hour when they were on the phone or pulling the file.

Chatting during breaks – an employee gets in a half an hour early to have a cup of coffee and chat with coworkers.

If, while chatting with co-workers, any business matter that happens to creep into the conversation is considered paid work time and all of the employees involved in that conversation must be paid for that time.

Checking emails from home – before leaving for work, an employee who lives over an hour away, checks a Blackberry or other electronic device for business email.

The Department of Labor considers this unpaid work time.

Supervisors “pitching in” to help – perhaps a Customer Service Supervisor (an exempt employee) puts on the headphones and takes orders for a few hours OR a Maintenance Supervisor sometimes does cleanup himself to make sure the work gets done.

If your company is audited, the Department of Labor may decide that answering the phone is hourly work and can reclassify the Customer Service Supervisor an a nonexempt hourly employee.  Once they do this, if they find that the Customer Service Supervisor worked more that 40 hours in a week (and many do); you could be hit with overtime backpay, penalties, and interest —- possibly for several years.

The same goes for the Maintenance Supervisor, because they are a “manager” and, therefore exempt, should be supervising the work done by others rather than doing the work themselves.

Employees who are exempt because they do managerial work (regardless if their title is “manager” or “supervisor” should be supervising and not doing the work for the people under them.

Wondering why this is such a big deal?

There is a major Department of Labor push on wage-hour enforcement, and according to Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, “The U. S. Department of Labor is back in the enforcement business.”  There will be a huge jump in wage-hour audits, and 350 investigators are being added – an increase of more than one-third.

For additional information about the Fair Labor Standards Act, visit their website.

4 Responses to Are You Unknowingly Violating the Fair Labor Standards Act?

  • Yes, it’s getting tougher and tougher to make sure that we are following ALL the rules isn’t it?

  • Excellent post. This is so important and you are right, so many of us do not know this. I learned it only when checking about “forced” snow days off.

  • This is incredible. Have you ever read Atlas Shrugged? These micromanagement laws are straight out of that book. It sounds like the Department of Labor is trying to make ways to make everyone a lawbreaker. One character in Atlas Shrugged (Dr. Ferris, I believe) points out that people who are not breaking any laws can’t be governed, so they must change the law to make normal behavior illegal.

    The more the government piles unnecessary rules like these on business, even if they’re designed to help workers, the more they will hurt people and curb freedom in the long run. Thanks for letting everyone know about these silly rules, though. I think I’ll go ask someone who John Galt is now. 🙂

Leave a Reply

About Your Host:

Nancy Smyth, Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor

Nancy Smyth, Sunburst Software Solutions, Inc.
QuickBooks Construction & Payroll Expert


I've been using and supporting QuickBooks products since the early 1990's. I've worked with thousands of contractors, assisting them with QuickBooks setup, Certified Payroll Reporting requirements, AIA Billing and Weighted-Average Overtime.


QuickBooks is a powerful product, but learning how to use it in your construction business can be difficult. I hope you find resources available here to be helpful.

Search…….
Loading
Stay updated!

Sign up to receive our latest QuickBooks Tips, Tricks & News via email:


Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner


We promise NOT to sell, rent, or otherwise distribute your name and email address!

FREE 30-Day Trials

Request FREE 30-day Trials of QuickBooks add-ons for Certified Payroll, AIA Billing & Payroll Wage Management. Save time and increase accuracy on time-consuming error prone tasks; so you get paid on time!

Free 30 day trials of QuickBooks integrated add-ons for certified payroll, aia billing and weighted-average overtime

Certified Payroll Training:
Learn how to complete a Certified Payroll (Prevailing Wage) Report and fulfill your reporting requirements - 2 hour live webinar - $89.00 per person. Click here for more info.

certified payroll requirements webinar
QuickBooks Training

Frustrated with QuickBooks?

QuickBooks Premier ContractorLearn how to get the MAXIMUM possible results from QuickBooks in your construction business! Visit our new QuickBooks training website, Learn to use QuickBooks in your construction business.

QuickBooks Time Tracking

Save 10%/FREE 14-day trial!


QuickBooks Time Tracker