As an employee, there are times when you are on or off the clock. You usually need to clock into your shift and clock out at certain times.
Working while you’re off the clock is not legal, because it means that you won’t be paid for the work that you do. Unfortunately, it is extremely easy to work off the clock accidentally, which means that you could be working hours longer per pay period than you’re being paid for.
Common kinds of off-the-clock work
There are a few common kinds of off-the-clock work that someone might do. For example, a worker might come in an hour early with the hope of loading a truck before their shift, even though they can’t clock in early. Should they do this? Not really, because doing so means that they won’t be paid for their time.
Another example of off-the-clock work could be if you just clocked out and are leaving when a customer approaches you. Normally, it’s best to say that you’re off the clock and to pass them on to someone else, but you know them. So, you stay longer to help them. The next thing you know, you’ve been there for two hours longer and have to rush out the door to get to an appointment.
If you don’t turn in those hours or ask for a time adjustment due to forgetfulness or are told that you can’t adjust your hours, then you worked off the clock. Your employer cannot ignore your request for a time adjustment, because you were working. If they do, they could be held responsible for paying back wages after you make a claim against them.
You have a right to be paid for your work
Whether you answer phone calls from work at home while you’re technically not supposed to be working or you spend time “catching up” with work at home, you need to be paid for your time as a nonexempt employee. If you are not, then you have a right to complaint to the Department of Labor and to seek compensation for any unpaid time including unpaid overtime.