Mandatory Work Meetings Scheduled Outside Normal Working Hours or Shift
UPDATED: April 27, 2018
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There is a tendency to treat “normal” as meaning “set” or “required,” but if you look up its definition, it really only means “usual” or “typical.” That’s important to bear in mind in answering this question: an employee’s normal working hours are only his or her usual or typical ones, but they are not set in stone. An employer may change those hours, such as by requiring attendance at a mandatory meeting outside normal working hours … at will. If the employer tells you that you have to attend a meeting, you have to attend it—no matter when it is.
There are, however, three limited exceptions:
1) if you have a contract (including a union agreement), setting your hours—the employer cannot make you work in violation of it;
2 ) if your industry or job is regulated by law as to hours, as is the case for doctors, pilots, and a few other professions, and the meeting falls outside the permitted hours; or
3) if attending the meeting would require you to violate sincerely held religious beliefs, such as if the meeting is during your weekly church service.
So in terms of whether you can be required to attend the meeting, the answer is “yes.” If you fail to attend, you may be terminated.
Payment for Attending Mandatory Meetings Outside Working Hours
Do you have the right to be paid for attending a mandatory meeting scheduled outside your normal working time?
It depends on your employee status. If you are hourly, you must be paid for all hours worked—including meetings, and including work (or meetings) falling outside your typical hours. And if you are hourly, you are almost certainly a “non-exempt” employee—that is, someone who can earn overtime—which means that if the meeting pushes you over 40 hours for the week, you will earn overtime.
Even if you are salaried, not hourly, you might be entitled to extra pay. Many salaried employees are “exempt”—that is, ineligible for overtime. If so, their weekly salary is their total compensation for all work done that week, including meetings outside normal working hours. However, while many salaried employees are exempt, not all are: some salaried employees are eligible to get overtime. To be exempt, the employee must earn at least $455.00 per week in salary and must meet one or more of the criteria for exemption, such as the executive exemption, the administrative employee exemption, or the professional exemption. (You can find these criteria on the U.S. Dept. of Labor website and should compare them to your job duties and authority.) If a salaried employee doesn’t earn enough per week, or does not meet at least one of the criteria for exemption, he or she is non-exempt. And if he or she is nonexempt, and works more than 40 hours in a week—i.e., attending a mandatory meeting—then the employee earns an overtime premium, or extra pay, for all time worked past 40 hours.
So your employer can make you attend a meeting outside your normal working hours, but may have to pay you for doing so.