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Fair Labor Standards Act FAQ

A staff member in our department sometimes takes work home so she can complete projects she hasn't been able to finish during her normal workday. She does this on her own and doesn't expect or want overtime compensation. She doesn't enter the extra hours worked on her time sheet. Is there anything we need to do in this situation?

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires overtime compensation for any time worked beyond forty hours per week. Work performed off-site must be included in computing hours worked, and the time sheet must accurately record actual hours worked. In this case, the employee should be paid for the hours worked off-site and the supervisor should make sure the regulations are followed in the future.

Our department is planning a reception and needs volunteers to serve as greeters. I would like to ask my staff if any of them would be interested in participating. There won't be any compensation. If I ask my employees whether any of them would be interested in volunteering, will I be in any danger of having to compensate them for overtime?

Yes, if the time spent at the reception results in more than forty hours worked in that week. Even if you make it clear this is strictly voluntary and there will be no compensation, you may have a problem. One of the criteria under the FLSA for a designation of "voluntary" is that the service must be offered freely and without direct or implied pressure or coercion. When a department or supervisor provides an "opportunity" for volunteer work to its own employees, it could be difficult to make a case that there is no implied pressure.

We have an employee who works overtime on his own and takes compensatory time off during one of our busiest periods. What can we do?

If an employee works unauthorized overtime, he should be made aware of the policy and the consequences of working overtime without permission. When an employee works overtime, with or without permission, there must be overtime compensation. However, continuing to work overtime without permission is a work performance issue and must be dealt with as such. A second area where policy applies to this situation is determination of when compensatory time will be taken. Under the FLSA, departments must approve an employee's request to take compensatory time off unless it unduly disrupts the department's operations. If an employee requests compensatory time off during the department's busiest times, it may be that the department has some grounds for refusing the request. University Human Resources should be contacted for advice this type of situation.

A staff member who reports to me sometimes works more than forty hours a week, but she keeps track of the time on her desk calendar and takes an equal amount of time off at a later date. She always records forty hours worked on her time sheet. Is this a problem?

An emphatic yes. The FLSA's recordkeeping regulations are strictly enforced. It is a serious violation to fail to record actual hours worked. If you as a supervisor know the information recorded on the time sheet is not accurate and nevertheless approve the time sheet, you are in violation of university policy and state and federal law. As for taking equal time off at a later date, that is also a violation. Compensatory time off must be 1.5 times the overtime hours worked.

One of our employees sometimes comes to work half an hour before his scheduled start time. He then arrives half an hour late or leaves half an hour early on a different day. Is that all right?

As long as the time is adjusted during the same workweek and with your approval, there is no problem. However, the employee cannot take the time off during a different week because this will result in more than forty hours worked in one week and less than forty hours worked in another week.

Are we required to give overtime compensation for finishing up time on a daily shift?

If the finishing up time is less than 15 minutes beyond the daily shift, that time may be accommodated by equal time late arrival or early departure on another day in the same workweek. However, if the finishing up time results in more than forty hours being worked in the workweek, it will be recorded as overtime and compensated as such. Finishing up time of 15 minutes or more during a shift will be recorded as a daily overtime subject to overtime compensation.

If an employee comes to work early every morning and sits at her desk, do we have to treat this as overtime? She doesn't perform her usual duties, but she does answer the phone and perform some miscellaneous office work.

As long as the employee is performing work for the university, she must be compensated. It is management's responsibility to make sure employees are not working when management doesn't want them to work. Spending time in a break room or a non-work area before or after assigned work hours will not be considered work time but spending that same time in a work area will normally be considered work time. A related situation is the employee who sits at her desk during her lunch break. If any work-related activity occurs during that time, it becomes work time instead of a lunch break and must be recorded as work time.

Can we require staff to work overtime?

The policy for staff represented by CWA states that "compulsory overtime is discouraged." The policy for staff represented by AFSCME states that "employees will perform reasonable overtime assignments when required, except where cases of personal emergency exist." However, policy for all nonexempt functional groups states that overtime work should be worked only when "absolutely necessary."

If we present training sessions for PA staff on Saturdays and open them to attendance by nonexempt staff on a voluntary basis, will we have to give them overtime compensation to those who attend?

If attending the training sessions results in more than forty hours worked in the week, the employees will probably be eligible for overtime compensation. Attendance at the sessions will not be considered voluntary if the employees have the perception that management would like them to participate.

 

For questions and more information, call Classification and Compensation at 855-1299.

Page updated: 13 May 2010
UNIVERSITY HUMAN RESOURCES
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