Must an employee be paid for all of the hours that they are at work?

UPDATED: Aug 12, 2011

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Must an employee be paid for all of the hours that they are at work?

My husband works as a car service technician. And his working hours are from 7:30 am until 5:30 pm. But the employer pays him only for the hours when there is a car that he is working on, yet he has to stay at work for 10 hours. So his salary is less than the minimum wage. Is this is legal? When he started to complain they toldhim that he can leave if he doesn’t like it; he just started the job 2 months ago.

Asked on August 12, 2011 Florida


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

An hourly employee must be paid for all hours worked, and "hours worked" includes all hours that the employee must be a work site, whether or not the employee is "working" at the time. (If the employer doesn't put his time to good use, that's the employer's fault.) So if your husband has to be at the employer's place of business for 10 hours a day, he needs to be paid for 10 hours a day, whether he's working on a car or not--and if he works more than 40 hous in a week, he needs to get overtime for all hours over 40, too. Your husband may have a large claim for unpaid wages and overtime; he should either consult with a employment law attorney and/or contact the state labor department.

Note that if there is not enough actual "work" for its staff, the employer's options are (1) shorten hours; (2) lay off surplus workers; (3) go to an "on call" system where employees may go about their business until and unless they are called in for work.

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