Labor Department guidelines address wage and hour issues

Employees in Tennessee and across the country may face an array of confusing problems related to proper payment for their hours worked. Unfortunately, many businesses try to cut corners and can avoid paying workers for time for which they should be compensated. Two April 2018 opinion letters from the Department of Labor attempt to clarify situations that have arisen for workers on the job that implicate the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act.

In the first letter, the Department of Labor addresses a common issue, that of compensation for travel time away from home. While in general, wage and hour laws provide that employees are not entitled to payment for regular commutes from home to the job, the issue can be more complicated when workers travel away from home. This is especially true when a worker, paid hourly, does not have specified regular working hours. When there is no such workday, the DoL said that the employer can choose an average start and end time for the workday or make a negotiated agreement about travel compensation in order to meet legal requirements.

In the second letter, the DoL argued that workers who have extra breaks to protect their health on the job covered under FMLA are not entitled to compensation. This is because these breaks primarily benefit the worker's health, rather than the workplace as such. At the same time, the DoL advised that workers with extra FMLA breaks must not be deprived of their regular compensated breaks.

People may face an array of issues attempting to secure proper payment for all of their hours worked on the job. When they are the victims of violations of wage and hour laws, they might want to discuss their situation with an attorney.

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