After the Work Day Has Ended…

Steven Cesare, Ph.D.

A business owner from Connecticut contacted me the other day to discuss his company’s communication procedures.  As part of this process, the owner told me that his company has a monthly Foremen meeting that routinely discusses various topics including safety tailgate sessions, labor efficiency, job quality standards, customer service, employee training, and sundry workers’ compensation topics like injury reporting procedures, MPN clinics, and Safety Coordinator responsibilities.  All standard topics; no surprises.

Toward the end of the meeting, I casually asked the owner if he ever attended the meetings.  He concurred and commented that they meet once a month after the work day has ended.  

“After the work day has ended…”

With that statement as impetus, I then informed the owner that based upon federal law, since those Foremen were non-exempt employees, he had to pay each of them for all of their time spent in those monthly meetings, even if it meant paying them overtime wages.  Surprised by my statement, he incredulously asked if I was joking.  

He knew I was not joking.  

He then responded that he should not have to pay them since they were not really working.  I proceeded to enumerate the four criteria contained within the Fair Labor Standards Act that must be met in order for non-exempt employees to NOT be paid.  In specific, time spent by employees attending training programs, lectures, and meetings are not counted as hours worked if the attendance is voluntary on the part of the employee and ALL of the following criteria are met:

1.) Attendance is outside regular working hours;

2.) Attendance is voluntary: attendance is not voluntary if the employee is led to believe that present working conditions or the continuation of employment would be adversely affected by non- attendance;

3.) The training course, lecture, or meeting is not directly related to the employee’s job:  training is directly related to an employee’s job if it is designed to make the employee handle his/her job more effectively as distinguished from training him/her for another job or to a new or additional skill; AND 

4.) The employee does not perform any productive work during such attendance.

With pointed reference to the monthly Foremen meetings:  Item #1 was true; Item #2 was not true in that the Foremen in attendance were required to be at the monthly meeting; Item #3 was not true in that the topics being discussed were directly related to a Foreman’s job; and though debatable, Item #4 was probably also not true in that the topics being discussed likely yielded increased company productivity.

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Steve Cesare Ph.D.

has more than 25 years of Human Resources experience. Prior to joining The Harvest Group, Steve worked with Bemus Landscape, Jack in the Box, the County of San Diego, Citicorp, and NASA. Steve earned his Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Old Dominion University, and has authored 68 human resources journal articles. As a member of The Harvest Group, Steve’s areas of expertise include: staffing, legal compliance, wage and hour issues, training, and employee safety.  Read Steve's full bio.