Can an employer require you to work off the clock to correct a mistake that you made?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Can an employer require you to work off the clock to correct a mistake that you made?

I am a carpenter. I hung a cabinet in a laundry room in a new house. The cabinet was later determined to

be damaged. My employer says that when the new cabinet comes in, I will be required to take down the original one and hang the new one all on my own time because I was responsible for checking for damage to the first one before hanging it.

Asked on June 2, 2019 under Employment Labor Law, Indiana


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

No, they cannot: off-the-clock and unpaid work is never legal under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and state labor law. All time of hourly employees must be tracked, and hourly employees must be paid for all time worked.
That doesn't mean the employer cannot take action against you if he believes you made a mistake: you could be suspended, terminated, pay cut going forward, etc. There are many, even more serious, things the employer can do to you for a perceived mistake unless you have a written contract preventing them taking action (without a written employment contract, you are an "employee at will" and have no rights to or protection for your job)--but they can't legally make you work "off-the-clock."

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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