Some employers attempt to avoid the requirement to pay one and a half of an employee’s hourly rate for overtime hours. The FSLA is very strict in defining what constitutes overtime and requires that anytime an employer requires or allows the employee to work, that work counts toward the employee’s weekly hours. This means that even if an employer does not require an employee to work, but the employee works anyway, those hours count toward the overtime determination. For example, assume that the manager of a copy center asks her employee to work on a copying project. The employee’s shift ends at 7 p.m., so the manager tells him that he can leave work when his shift ends and can then complete the project the following day if necessary. Nevertheless, the employee continues to work on the project after his shift ends and manages to complete it that evening. His efforts, however, take an additional three hours beyond the forty hours he has already worked that week. The employee is entitled to receive three hours of overtime pay, at one and a half times his usual hourly wage, for the additional work he did. If the employer knows or has reason to believe that an employee is continuing to work and if the employer benefits from the work being done, that time counts toward the overtime calculation.
Also included in the overtime calculation is time spent by an employee correcting mistakes, even when the employee does so voluntarily. Time spent by an employee merely waiting for something to do or doing nothing counts toward hours worked, assuming the employer requires the employee to be present. Work performed by the employee at home or at another location other than the employer’s premises also counts toward hours worked.