Q. Our company recently has adopted an employee suggestion program with prizes for employees who make a suggestion that we adopt. I have been asked whether employees who turn in suggestions must be paid for the time they spend on developing their ideas if they work on them at home. Employees are not required to turn in suggestions, but we did make a big deal about the suggestion program with our employees.
A. Time spent by employees working on suggestions when not otherwise scheduled to work generally is not considered working time. If employees are permitted to work on suggestions during regular working time, then the time must be paid. If employees are assigned to work on a problem or to make a suggestion on how to change something, that also would be considered working time, whether it is worked on during regular working hours or at home.
Your plan appears to be the voluntary type, so there is no requirement to treat the time spent at home as working time.