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FLSA Hours Worked Advisor

On Duty Waiting Time

When your employee is waiting for work to do, for repairs to be made, etc. while on duty, he or she is engaged to wait and the time is hours worked.

For example:

  • A receptionist who reads a book while waiting for customers or telephone calls.
  • A messenger who works a crossword puzzle while awaiting assignments.
  • A fireman who plays checkers while waiting for alarms.
  • A factory worker who talks to fellow employees while waiting for machinery to be repaired.
  • A waitperson in a restaurant waiting for customers to arrive.

The rule is the same for employees who work away from the plant.

For example:

  • Time spent by a repairperson who has to wait for his or her employer’s customer to get the premises ready probably is hours worked.
  • Time spent by a truck driver who has to wait at or near the job site for goods to be loaded or unloaded is probably hours worked.
  • Time spent by a bus driver who reaches his or her destination and while awaiting the return trip stays with the bus to guard the bus and any items left on the bus is probably hours worked.

In each of these situations, the employee is engaged to wait and the time is hours worked. Waiting is an essential part of the job.

The time is hours worked even though your employee is allowed to leave the premises or the job site during such periods of inactivity. The period during which the inactivity occurs is unpredictable and usually of short duration. In either event, your employee is unable to use the time effectively for his or her own purposes. Your employee's time belongs to and is controlled by you, the employer.

For information about Off Duty Waiting Time or On-Call Waiting Time, click on the underlined text.

To review the regulations which address waiting time in general or the specific regulations concerning on duty waiting time, click on the underlined text.

For more information, please contact your local Wage and Hour District Office.

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