Text Size:   A+ A- A   •   Text Only
Site Image

Working Time: Questions & Answers
The law has defined "employed" to be anytime an employee is "suffered or permitted to work." Work time is 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.
This area of law is complex and you are probably wondering what the above definition means to you as an employer. For clarification, here is a list of most asked questions and their answers. 
Preparatory and Concluding Activities
Q. If I require an employee to report anytime 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 are:

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.

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.

In order to avoid liability for payment it is management´s duty to have and to enforce rules prohibiting unauthorized work. If a worker insists on not following your work rules, discipline would be in order. However, an employer must pay for all hours worked, even if unauthorized.
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:.

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.

Waiting Time for Work
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.
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 require an employee to carry a beeper or leave a number where he/she can be reached in case of emergency during specified hours. In this case, the employee is able to use the time effectively for his/her 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 an employee cannot use the time effectively for his/her own benefit they may be considered as "engaged to wait," in which case the time spent waiting will be compensable. 

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.