Employers have struggled to figure out exactly when they must pay employees for pre-work activities ever since the U. S. Supreme Court decided that the Fair Labor Standards Act requires paying workers for the time they spend putting on protective clothing.
It’s not enough to say that the time must be of benefit to the employer—it must also be integral and indispensable to the principal activity the employee will perform.
You know that ordinary commuting time isn’t paid time. But the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has said that the time between picking up a company truck and arriving at a worksite is paid time. Now the 11th Circuit has clarified whether an employer has to pay for the time employees spend on a company-provided bus going to the work site.
The bottom line: Unless workers receive instruction or engage in other work-related activity while in transit, the time is unpaid.
Recent case: A group of airport construction workers sued their employer, claiming they should have been paid for time they spent at a security checkpoint and on an employer-provided bus that took them from a the checkpoint to the actual construction site.
The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed. First, the time spent waiting for screening was outside the employer’s control and was not for the employer’s benefit. In addition, the time spent on the bus was part of the commute and therefore not paid time, as employees didn’t perform any work-related activities on the trip. (Bonilla, et al., v. Baker Concrete Construction, No. 06-12515, 11th Cir., 2007)
Final note: If a supervisor boarded the bus and gave the day’s instructions, that might make the time compensable.