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Pay for Prep Time if It’s ‘Integral’ to Job

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Q. We expect our bank tellers to be at their workstations and ready to open at 9:15 a.m. Should the tellers punch in before or after they go to the safe and get their money? —L.S., Michigan

A. Generally, you must pay employees for the time spent preparing for (or finishing up) their workday only if the activity is an “integral” part of their job. The Labor Department will look at whether the activity is closely related to the actual work and is indispensable to its performance. In your case, the bank tellers' trip to the safe is closely related to and indispensable to their work. So your tellers should punch in before they go to the safe.

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