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Can playing softball be working time?

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in Compensation and Benefits,Human Resources

Question: According to the company grapevine, a couple of managers are pressuring their employees to attend and play on their softball teams at the company’s annual picnic. The picnic is tentatively scheduled for a Saturday in June and, traditionally, employees and their families attend. Would these employees need to be paid for this time?

Answer: They may, indeed, need to be paid for this time. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, employees need not be paid for attending an after-hours company meeting or function if their attendance is completely voluntary. On the other hand, employees’ presence isn’t voluntary, and they must be paid, if their managers lead them to believe that they will jeopardize their current jobs or future promotion prospects by not attending.

Suggestion: Send a memo to employees reminding them that attendance at the picnic is voluntary and that those who don’t attend won’t be penalized.

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