Is it legal to make an employee stay at work without pay?

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Is it legal to make an employee stay at work without pay?

Our company does not have an HR department. Our CEO told employees we had to have our 40 hours in by Friday at noon. He then told employees he wants to have a gathering where he would supply food and games. He said we have to stay until 3 pm but we will not be paid from 12-3 and we cannot leave. Can be make us stay? Is this legal?

Asked on August 5, 2019 under Employment Labor Law, South Dakota

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

1) He can make you stay: employers, not employees, set and determine hours, schedules, work that must be done or events attended, etc.
2) Salaried employees do not get any pay for this: their weekly salary is their total pay for any/all work or hours during the week.
3) If it is mandatory, then even if it is "fun and games," it is considered work: anything the employer requires you to do, or anyplace it requires you to be, is work. So if it is mandatory, hourly employees, who must under the law (e.g. the Fair Labor Standards Act, or FLSA) must be paid for all hours worked, must be paid for the time.
4) If it's not mandatory--i.e. if could leave, even if doing so is a bad idea because it will disappoint your boss--then hourly employees would not be paid.


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