Mandatory Work Meetings Scheduled Outside Normal Working Hours or Shift
Is the employee an exempt employee or a nonexempt employee? If the employee is exempt—that is, an employee who meets one of the tests for not receiving overtime—then the employer may freely make the employee attend meetings outside of his or her normal working hours shift, without any additional compensation. Most salaried employees are exempt (though “salaried” and “exempt” are not the same thing, and it is possible to be paid on a salaried basis while being nonexempt and earning overtime); as a consequence, the vast majority of salaried employees can be made to work additional hours, such as by attending mandatory meetings outside their regular working hours, without being paid anything more.
However, the situation is different for a nonexempt employee, or one who can earn overtime. The vast majority of nonexempt employees are hourly or wage employees—i.e. employees who are paid a certain amount for each hour worked. Under employment law, such as the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), nonexempt employees must be paid for all hours worked. Work time includes meeting time—essentially, if the employee is doing something which the employer requires him or her to do, it’s work. Being paid for work time includes being paid overtime when appropriate, such as for working more than 40 hours in a single workweek. (Note: some states, like California, are more protective of employees than federal law; California, for example, requires overtime whenever a nonexempt employee works more than 8 hours in a day.)
Employers may require nonexempt employees to work beyond their regular shifts; the only time that an employer can’t require additional or extra work is (1) if there is an employment contract to the contrary; or (2) the industry or profession is regulated as to hours (such as the maximum hours worked for truckers, pilots and sometimes doctors). However, they may not make the nonexempt workers work for free. If an employer is going to schedule mandatory meetings outside an employee’s normal working hours or shifts, the employer has to be prepared to pay for them. The employer will need to pay the employee for the hours spent attending the meeting, including, if appropriate, time-and-a-half (overtime).