Should employees be paid for time spent leaving the workplace?

Employees are entitled to pay for all hours spent engaged in work for the benefit of their employers. But what about the time it takes for an employee to leave the workplace after completing the day’s work? The United States Supreme Court heard arguments on this question today in the case of Integrity Staffing Solutions v. Busk.

Many companies require employees to clock out (ending the time for which they are paid) and then go through a screening process to ensure that they aren’t stealing the employer’s products or merchandise. At some workplaces, this process can take as long as 30 minutes as workers must wait in line for their turn, remove all metal objects – like belts, keys, and wallets – and then go through a metal detector. The employees in Integrity Staffing Solutions v. Busk filed suit demanding payment for this time at their regular hourly rate.

The current test for determining if such activities should be paid is whether they are “an integral and indispensable part of the principal activities” of the employee’s work. Integrity Staffing Solutions argues that screening is not related to the employee’s duties, which include packing and shipping products, therefore the employees should not be paid for that time. Busk argues that the screening is solely for the benefit of his employer and he should be paid.

It will take several months for the Supreme Court to issue a decision on the case. If it decides in favor of the employees, the impact will be significant. The Busk case is a class action that includes up to 100,000 employees. Not only will the decision affect these 100,000 workers, but it will have an impact on many other employees who are subjected to these same policies by other employers.

If you are asked to perform after you’ve clocked out for the day or as a “volunteer” for your employer, we are happy to talk to you about whether that request violates Kentucky or federal law.

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