Q. We operate a fitness club and employ many fitness class instructors. They have time between classes that ranges from 15 minutes to several hours. They are free to spend that time anyway they want, on or off premises. Do we have to pay them for the time between classes? — M.L., New Jersey
A. No, provided they are truly completely relieved of their work responsibilities. A word of caution, though: If the instructors “hang around” and perform work that benefits your business (cleaning up the room, etc.), that may indeed be compensable time, whether they are required to do the work or not.
Your best bet is to encourage the instructors to leave the building or at least take a well-deserved break in your employee lounge. It would be best to create documentation that supports your position that they are not working “off the clock.” Short of having them punch out during these periods, a written policy indicating they are not permitted to work during these periods, written reminders of the policy and an occasional warning or disciplining of those who fail to comply would be in order. Whether you discipline them or not, don’t mess with their pay. If they worked, they must be paid.