How to Stop Hourly Employees Working Off The Clock

Are You Violating Federal Wage and Hour Laws?

off the clock workThe Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires that covered, nonexempt employees receive overtime pay at a rate of not less than one and one-half times an employee’s regular rate of pay after 40 hours of work in a workweek. This means hourly employees working off the clock can have a significant impact on your business’ bottom line. 

Because, if an hourly employee works over 40 hours, they better be getting overtime pay. But that doesn’t always happen.

For example, a Wisconsin cleaning company recently came under fire for violating federal wage and time clock rules for hourly employees.. The company failed to pay employees for the time they spent loading trucks and driving to job sites. As a result, the company now has to pay $104,421 in back wages to 56 workers.

Sometimes companies encourage managers to look the other way while employees work off the clock, and sometimes it’s an honest mistake. But either way, your organization is liable.

So to reduce your risk, it’s important that you know what constitutes off the clock work and that you have a plan in place to prevent it from happening.

Examples of How Hourly Employees Can Work Off The Clock

To help you recognize it, we’ve put together a list of some examples of how hourly employees working off the clock can seem like they aren’t.

Taking Work Home

If an employee is working off the clock voluntarily on a project they’ve not completed, this is an example of working off the clock.  Another example is returning work-related phone calls at home after their shift has ended.

Putting on a Uniform

Many jobs require employees to wear protective gear or uniforms. And if the employee has to wait at the beginning or end of their shift to receive or turn in the gear/uniform, they need to be paid for that time spent waiting.

Serving a Customer

Customers don’t always walk out of the store or end their conversation right when an employee’s shift ends. If the employee has to stay late to finish helping the customer, they must be paid for that time even though their shift ended.

Beginning of the Day Prep

If an employee comes in early to start their computer and read emails, that’s an example of working off the clock. It might seem like they’re only getting prepared for the day, but actually, they are working.

End of the Day Tasks

The same thing might happen at the end of the day. An employee might clock out but then continue to work by cleaning, finishing paperwork or making calls-all of which they need to be compensated for.

5 Strategies to Prevent Off the Clock Work

You can protect your company from hourly employees working off the clock by maintaining compliance with federal wage and hour laws. And here are some strategies to help you.

Institute Clear Policies

Institute policies that clearly state working off the clock is not allowed. Make sure your guidelines are very clear and provide examples of what constitutes working off the clock so that there’s no questions or misinterpretations.

Train on Wage and Hour Laws

You can use wage and hour law training to help supervisors and managers understand what counts as off the clockwork. It will also help them understand their responsibilities under federal and state wage and hour laws.

Answering Emails Off The Clock Or Using Other Technology

Employers can limit access to technology so that non-exempt employees don’t work after hours. This way, they won’t be able to answer emails or access their work assignments once they’ve gone home for the day.

Don’t Let Employees Stay Late

Don’t let employees stay in the office after their shift is over to “finish up” anything. Have supervisors and managers stay with employees to make sure they are clocked in while working. Also, know that managers and supervisors who are not paid a salary count as hourly employees working off the clock when they stay late. So it’s important to make sure they are not staying late either.

Have Employees take Breaks and Lunches

Staying late or coming in early isn’t the only times’ employee may try and work off the clock. They might use their lunch break as an opportunity to keep working. Make sure they aren’t by mandating that employees take breaks and lunches away from their desks.


Federal wage and hour laws mandate overtime for non-exempt employees that work more than 40 hours a week. It’s your responsibility to ensure that employees aren’t working off the clock and that it doesn’t negatively impact your business.. You can stop employees by setting clear policies, training supervisors, limiting access to technology and helping them adhere to their schedules.

We offer wage and hour training to help you educate your workforce. To learn more, request a demo today.