Sleeping On The Job — When “Sleep Time” Actually Counts As Working Time

“Sleep time” is an issue that sometimes comes up in overtime cases when trying to determine exactly how many hours an employee has worked in a given week.  The question is — Do hours spent sleeping count as working time that must be paid?

If you’re working less then a 24-hour duty shift, all of the time spent on duty, except bona fide meal periods, is probably hours worked and should be paid.   If you are required to be on duty for fewer than 24 hours, all of the duty time is probably hours worked, even though you are permitted to sleep or engage in other personal activities when not busy. The fact that sleeping facilities are furnished does not make a difference when your time is given to the employer and you are required to be on duty.

When you are required to be on duty for 24 hours or more, you and the employer may agree to exclude bona fide meal periods and a bona fide regularly scheduled sleeping period of not more than 8 hours from hours worked.  Whether sleeping time counts as working time can be a complicated question.  Federal law not only requires an agreement between you and your employer regarding deducting sleep time and meal periods from hours worked, but also requires that adequate sleeping facilities be furnished to you by your employer.  If you are a truck driver, a team driver or helper, the berth in your truck is regarded as adequate sleeping facilities. However, this rule applies to sleeping berth time only when you are on trips away from home for a period of 24 hours or more.

Federal law further mandates that you are able to enjoy a regularly scheduled uninterrupted night’s sleep, if 8 hours of sleep time is to be deducted.  When your sleep period is interrupted by a call to duty, the interruption must be counted as hours worked. If the interruptions are so frequent that you are not able to get a reasonable night’s sleep, that entire sleep period must be counted as hours worked. This determination is made on the basis of what happens during each sleep period.

As an enforcement policy, the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor considers that a reasonable night’s sleep means you are able to get at least 5 hours of sleep during the scheduled sleep period. These five hours need not be continuous uninterrupted hours of sleep. If 5 hours of sleep is not possible, the Wage and Hour Division asserts that no sleep time can be deducted from the hours you are required to be on duty.  If you are able to get 5 or more hours of sleep, the sleep time is not considered hours worked. However, your employer can only deduct the actual number of hours spent sleeping, up to a maximum of 8 hours. For example, if you receive 6 hours of sleep, your employer can only deduct 6 hours for sleeping from the work period. This determination is made on the basis of what happens during each sleep period.   Even though you may sleep more than 8 hours, a maximum of 8 hours can be deducted from the 24 hours you are required to be on duty. All interruptions of your sleep must be counted as hours worked.

Overtime cases require legal analysis of federal statutes, U.S. Department of Labor regulations, and court decisions.  I can help you with any employment law or labor law questions that you might have.  Please feel free to contact me for a free initial consultation about employment law or labor law.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: