Must we pay employees for unauthorized overtime when they check their messages? — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily

Must we pay employees for unauthorized overtime when they check their messages?

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in Human Resources,Overtime Labor Laws

Q. We frequently have employees turn in time sheets with unapproved overtime—time they spend checking emails and voice mails. Do we have to pay em­­­­ployees for this time even though we have a workplace policy that prohibits unapproved overtime work?

A. Yes, the Fair Labor Standards Act requires paying nonexempt employees for all time actually worked, even if that time is unapproved overtime. This includes time spent reviewing e-communications such as emails, texts or instant messages.

The best approach to avoid unintended overtime is to set clear guidelines prohibiting nonexempt employees from working overtime (including checking email and voice messages outside of the workday). Then—although you must still pay them—you may discipline employees who violate the policies.

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Megan L. Anderson is an attorney with Gray Plant Mooty’s Employment Law Practice Group in Minneapolis. Concentrating her practice in employment law counseling and litigation, she ­regularly advises employers and provides training on a variety of employment law issues. Contact her at megan.anderson@gpmlaw.com or (612) 632-3004.

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