How Is Your “Working Time” Under Overtime Law Affected When You Literally Live At Work?

“Working time” is an important concept in overtime cases.  “Working time” refers to the number of hours that an employee works.  If those hours exceed a certain minimum amount, the employee is entitled to overtime pay for the extra working time.

Some employees work at home or live on their employer’s premises on a permanent basis or for extended periods of time. Examples include an apartment complex maintenance person who lives in the apartment complex, a house parent in a group home,  a college student employed as a “resident assistant” who lives in the dormitory, or a hotel manager.   In that situation, not all of the time you spend at the worksite/home is considered “working time” for purposes of the overtime laws, although it would be nice to be paid for every hour of a 24/7 workweek.  Ordinarily, you’re not considered to be working, even while at the home/jobsite, if you have time to engage in normal private activities such as sleeping, eating, entertaining, and have other periods of complete freedom from all duties when he or she are able to leave your premises and use the time as he or she chooses.

Because it’s difficult to determine the exact hours worked under these circumstances, any reasonable agreement between you and your employer regarding working time that takes into consideration all of the applicable facts will be accepted.  In this regard, you may wish to review waiting time, meal periods, and sleep time. The agreement must indicate the number of hours you’ll work and the hours you may use for personal activities.  The agreement should consider all relevant factors, including any restrictions or limitations on the use of your personal time and the expected interruptions to eating and sleeping periods. Whether your’re really free to use personal time as you wish will depend on what actually happens, regardless of the provisions of the written agreement. Such an agreement should normally be in writing in order to avoid any possible misunderstanding of the terms and conditions of your employee’s employment.

An exact record of hours worked is not required if you’re living on your employer’s premises or working at home. You may keep a time record showing the schedule adopted in the agreement and indicate that your work time generally was the same as the agreement or schedule.  If you and your employer realize that there is a great difference between the hours you agreed to work and the hours needed to do the job, a new agreement must be reached which reflects the actual hours you’re employee is required to work.

I can help you with any overtime law  questions that you might have.  Please feel free to contact me for a free initial consultation about employment law or labor law.


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