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Hours Worked - What the Law Considers "Paid Time"
This guidance is intended to help employers understand the scope of compensable work time under Oregon’s wage and hour laws.

Unless a specific exemption applies, wage and hour law requires that employees receive at least the minimum wage for all hours worked and may not be employed for more than 40 hours in a week without receiving at least one and one-half times their regular rates of pay for those overtime hours. The amount an employee should receive cannot be determined without knowing the number of hours worked.

The law has defined “employed” to be anytime an employee is “suffered or permitted to work.” Thus, compensable hours worked include all time an employee is required to be on the employer´s premises, on duty, or at a prescribed work place. It includes all time spent performing a principal job activity or performing an activity preparing an employee for work. 
Preparatory and Concluding Activities 
Q. If I require an employee to report before a scheduled shift in order to facilitate a smooth transition, do I have to pay for the time? 

A. Yes. In this case the requirement to report to work on your premises would serve a clear business purpose as it would benefit you as an employer and would be necessary for the smooth operation of the business. 
Q. I ask my employees to be at their work station to be ready to perform their jobs at a prescribed time. In order to do this, they must perform certain activities to enable them to be ready to begin work. Do I have to pay them for the time spent in preparation? 

A. Yes, if the prep time is an integral part of their principle work activity and the job could not be accomplished without these preliminary activities. Some examples of preparatory activities include:
  • A waitress setting up a work station, i.e., preparing coffee, filling condiment jars, etc. 
  • A machinist cleaning and oiling the machinery in a plant prior to beginning a shift. 
  • A bank teller counting a till before the business opens to the public. 

Q. I require my employees to wear uniforms on the job and some of them, for their own convenience, prefer to keep the uniforms at my place of business and change for work on the premises. Do I have to include this time when computing hours of work? 

A. No. There is no need to compensate for activities performed for the employee´s convenience. Note, however, that any significant amount of time an employee spends putting on or removing clothes or protective gear on the job (as well as time spent walking between a place where such gear is put or removed and the place where work is performed) could be considered part of hours worked when required as an integral part of the employee’s job.
Q. I have certain employees that arrive early and/or stay late due to transportation problems. They insist on working as they do not like to remain idle and claim they will volunteer the time. Am I liable for payment even though they are volunteering the time? 

A. Yes. The law states that an employer must compensate an employee for all hours worked whether those hours are authorized or unauthorized. It is the duty of the employer to exercise control and see that the work is not performed if it does not want the work to be performed. Merely creating a policy against such work is not enough. If a worker insists on not following work rules, discipline would be in order; however, an employer would need to pay for all hours worked, even those worked without authorization.

Meeting / Training Time

Q. I require my employees to attend monthly meetings to help understand company policy and new procedures. Do I have to pay them for these meetings? 

A. Yes. When the employer requires the employees´ attendance, that time must be counted as time worked, even though the employees may not be performing their usual duties. Only when all of the follow criteria are met may time spent in meetings be excluded from compensable hours worked:
  • Attendanc​e is outside of the employee's regular working hours;
  • Attendance is voluntary;
  • The training, lecture, or meeting is not directly related to the employee's job; and
  • The employee does not perform any productive work during such attendance.

Time employees spends on their own initiative, however, attending an independent school, college, or independent trade school after hours is not considered hours worked for an employer even if the courses are related to the employee's job.

Additionally, time spent in required training outside regular working hours at specialized or follow up training which is required for certification of employees by any law or ordinance does not constitute compensable hours of work, even if all or part of the cost of training is borne by the employer.
Waitin​g Time
Q. I´m in a business which requires me to ask a certain number of employees to report to work, but the number I require to actually perform work depends on the business that day. If I ask the employees to wait on the premises until I can be sure of the work availability, do I have to pay them for the time? 

A. Yes. The law requires that time spent waiting to perform work for the benefit, and at the request of the employer, be paid. Also, if you are an employer subject to Oregon’s predictive scheduling law, you should be aware that altering scheduled shifts for a given day may trigger additional compensation requirements. Be sure to click HERE for more information on these requirements.  
Q. If I send workers out on a job and they have to wait for a customer or equipment to arrive, do I have to pay them for the time spent waiting? 

A. Yes, unless you specifically relieve the employee from duty and the time period is sufficiently long enough for the employee to use the time for his or her own purposes. For example, a trucker waiting six hours to pick up a load has sufficient time, but a stenographer waiting 15 minutes for dictation does not. If a regular part of a person´s duties concerns waiting, that time will always be considered work time. 
On-Call Time 
Q. I employ people to be on-call during certain periods of the workweek. Do I have to compensate them for this time? 

A. Yes, if you require them to wait ON YOUR PREMISES to be called to duty. An example would be a fireman waiting to respond to an emergency. 
No, if you merely require an employee to carry a mobile phone or leave a number where they can be reached in case of emergency during specified hours. In this case, the employee is able to use the time effectively for their own purposes, even though there is a slight limitation. Payment must be made for all time the employee is called upon to perform work. 
Please be advised that if the calls are so frequent or the conditions so restrictive that employees cannot use the time effectively for their own benefit they may be considered as “engaged to wait,” in which case the time spent waiting will be compensable. 

Finally, employers subject to Oregon’s predictive scheduling law should be aware that employees must typically be paid one-half their regular rate of wage for scheduled on call hours where the employer does not ask the employee to perform work. Be sure to click HERE for more information on predictive scheduling requirements.  

Sleep Time

Under certain circumstances hours worked may even include time that an employee spends asleep.

Q. I run a 24-hour self-storage facility and require some employees to work overnight. The facility has a small apartment attached and employees are welcome to sleep during their shift so long as they are available to handle occasional things that come up after hours. Do I need to pay the time they spend sleeping?

A. Your answer depends on two things: the length of the shift and whether the employee gets a reasonable opportunity for sleep.

If the shift is less than 24 hours, none of the time an employee is permitted to sleep may be excluded from hours worked, except for bona fide meal periods.

Where an employee is required to be on duty for 24 hours or more, the employer and the employee may agree to exclude up to eight hours from hours worked, provided:
  • ​Adequate sleeping facilities are furnished by the employer; and 
  • The employee can usually enjoy an uninterrupted sleep period. 
If the sleeping period is interrupted by a call to duty, the time worked during an interruption of sleep must be counted as hours worked. In addition, if interruptions result in an employee not getting at least five continuous hours of uninterrupted time for sleep, the entire sleep period must be counted as hours worked.

Note that only eight hours can be excluded from hours worked, even if sleeping period is more than eight hours. Of course, excluding sleep time from hours of work requires a bona fide agreement, so it’s best to put your arrangement in writing.
Special rules apply to employee who reside on employer’s premises, domestic workers and those who work at home. See OAR 839-020-0042 for the details.

Volunteer Activities 
Q. Can an employee also act in a volunteer capacity for my organization? 

A. In order for an employee to qualify as a volunteer, these four criteria must be met: 
  • The work must be at the employee´s initiative. 
  • The work must be outside normal or regular work hours. 
  • The employee must be performing a religious, charitable or other community service without contemplation of payment. 
  • The employee must be performing a task outside of the regular job functions performed for the same employer. 

Travel Time 

Check out our online factsheet and FAQ by clicking HERE​.

Revised February, 2019

Nothing on this website is intended as legal advice.  Any responses to specific questions are based on the facts as we understand them, and not intended to apply to any other situations.  This communication is not an agency order.  If you need legal advice, please consult an attorney.  We attempt to update the information on this website as soon as practicable following changes or developments in the laws and rules affecting Oregon employers, but we make no warranties or representations, express or implied, about whether the information provided is current.  We urge you to check the applicable statutes and administrative rules yourself and to consult with legal counsel prior to taking action that may invoke employee rights or employer responsibilities or omitting to act when required by law to act.