Employers and employees can agree that up to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep time does not have to be paid.
Recent case: Andrew Seymore and his co-workers spent 24 hours per day aboard a ship that responds to environmental emergencies. The ship has sleeping quarters, which they used.
Seymore sued, claiming he and his shipmates should have been compensated for the time they spent sleeping.
The court disagreed. It said it was clear the workers and the company had agreed that they would not be paid for eight hours during which they were free to sleep. The court concluded that such an agreement is legal (and doesn’t have to be in writing) as long as workers can get shut-eye without interruptions. (Seymore v. Metson Marine, No. A127489, Court of Appeal of California, 1st Appellate District, 2011)