In PA, Your Employer Now Has To Pay You for All Time on Premises
A Decision About Security Screenings May Have Widespread Ramifications
At an Amazon warehouse in Lehigh County, employees had to undergo security screenings after each shift to make sure they weren’t stealing products from the warehouse. The security screenings took place after the employees clocked out, and the time spent waiting for screenings and getting screened was unpaid.
Employees objected to this, and took their objections to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. In July, the court ruled that the employees had to be paid for the time spent waiting for and getting screened. They further ruled that under the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act, there is no de minimis exception to time employees must be compensated for.
This is a significant ruling that could have widespread implications beyond this particular Amazon warehouse.
De Minimis Exceptions Under the FLSA
Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) at the federal level, employers are required to keep track of the time hourly employees work, and pay them accordingly.
There is an exception, however. Under the FLSA, tasks that take “insignificant” periods of time beyond a scheduled shift don’t have to be included under hours worked. The term for this is de minimis.
The reason Amazon was allowed not to pay its workers for time spent getting screened was that it was believed to fall under the de minimis exception.
De minimis exceptions often last only a few seconds or minutes, and employers may face practical challenges with tracking such small periods of time. However, what’s insignificant to an employer may be quite significant to the employee whose time is being taken up.
While “insignificant” is a subjective and indefinite term, the courts have generally ruled consistently that the longest time that may be considered de minimis is around ten minutes.
The Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act and the New Ruling
The Pennsylvania ruling, by contrast, denied that there is any de minimis exception to hourly wages under the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act. Under state law, employers are indeed required to pay employees for all time they are required to be on premises—with no exceptions.
While it’s difficult to say how this will affect court cases going forward, it does represent a major shift in how employers in Pennsylvania track time and compensate hourly employees.
Employees at many different facilities and in many different industries are often made to perform certain parts of their jobs—such as donning protective gear, or undergoing a COVID test—outside of work hours. As of this new ruling, this may now be unlawful.
What To Do if Your Employer Is Failing To Pay You for Your Time on Premises
If your employer is not paying you for time spent on premises—even if it’s a small amount of time—they may be in violation of the law.
If you’re not sure whether that’s the case, talk to a Pennsylvania employment lawyer. Your attorney can take a look at your situation and help you determine whether you are entitled to compensation.
Call us at 267-273-1054 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free, confidential consultation today.
The information provided here does not constitute legal advice. It is intended for general purposes only. If you have questions about a specific legal issue, you should speak to an attorney.