Hours worked is a self-explanatory statement usually identified as the number of hours an employee is under the employer's command and whose payment is due.
The hourly rate is a basis for the employer under the Fair Labor Standard Act (FLSA) to determine the employee's minimum wage. FLSA ensures that workers under the hours worked are compensated for their time.
The FLSA clearly states that the hours compensated for are for actual working hours and do not protect the employee on off days during sick leave or vacations.
Forms of Hours Worked
Depending on the job and tasks, hours worked may be viewed in various forms. These forms ensure as many applicable employees are well-compensated for time spent at work.
1. Waiting Time
This term is used when differentiating between engaged to wait time and time waiting to be engaged. The engaged-to-wait time is regarded as part of hours worked as it indicates the employee is on duty and is waiting for an opening to perform their duties. Employees use this time for personal enrichment, like reading a book.
Waiting to be engaged, however, does not count as part of hours worked. The employee is off-duty during this period and is awaiting to be summoned for their services.
2. On-Call Time
On-call time is best described as when an employee is required to stay available if their services are needed during that period. The employee may be required to remain on-call at work or home. The time constraints surrounding this restrict the employee from performing other tasks and should be fully compensated.
3. Travel Time
This time is compensable as part of the hours worked if it is considered a part of the job description.
This time is especially undisputed if it happens during work hours or days and benefits the employer. It includes traveling outside the headquarters on business duty or other tasks authorized by the employer, either during office hours or not.
4. Home to Travel Time
Ordinary home-to-work time, where the employee travels to work before the regular office days and back after office hours, is not usually considered part of the hours worked and is not a protected compensable income.
5. Time for Breaks
Most companies do offer the employees time for rest and meal breaks. Breaks typically go for at least five minutes to an hour. This time is not a requirement by the FLSA but is regarded as part of hours worked as basic human dignity. The breaks have also been found to be quite resourceful for better employee performance.
6. Time for Meetings and Workshops
This time is regarded as part of hours worked and must therefore be compensated. However, the meetings and workshops must take place during office hours, be related to the job, and be voluntary acts. Outside of these restrictions, the meeting is considered null and void.
How Do You Track Hours Worked?
How an employer tracks the hours worked by an employee depends on whether the employee is exempt or non-exempt.
An exempt employee will not require the employer to track hours worked. They are already covered under the FLSA to be reimbursed their total due, regardless of hours worked. The employer may only deduct their wage if it is legally permitted. The employer may, however, require the employee to work a certain number of hours and track them if they so wish.
A non-exempt employee will require their employer to keep a record of hours worked and their entire sum multiplied by the basic hourly rate. Most employers use the clock-in clock-out method to track their employees' time, as it is the simplest method.
Common ways to track hours worked include spreadsheets, time clocks, time cards, and payroll companies.
What is the Minimum Hourly Pay Rate?
The current hourly pay rate stands at $7.25, as per the FLSA. It is the federal minimum wage and must be paid regardless of whether the employer makes a daily or weekly payout.
Payment for Overtime
Paying overtime for non-exempt workers will require the employee to be 1.5 times the standard pay rate. It should, however, be noted that overtime for these workers is calculated after the regular forty hours per week. And some states have a limit on overtime, so check the limit not to exceed.
How to Calculate Hours Worked
Employees and employers must be able to calculate the hour worked accurately to avoid short charging. There are many ways and programs you can use to calculate hours worked.
Freelancers use time-tracking software to track their hours. Most apps take screenshots of your screen at intervals to show what you are working on. The screenshots help your employer confirm that you weren't working on other projects on their time.
The most effective method for in-office employees is to clock in once they enter and clock out at the end of the day. This will help your employer calculate how many hours you worked per day and then add them up for your weekly or monthly wage.
So how do you calculate hours worked?
1. Take note of your start and end time. For instance, the start time is 9.00 am and the close time is 6.00 pm.
2. Convert the time to 24 hours system, which will be 9.00 hours and 17.00 hours.
3. Take your closing time and subtract the start time.
4. Take your answer and subtract unpaid breaks. Let's say you took one hour off to perform personal errands.
5. This shows that you worked for a total of 8 hours.
How Do You Round Off Hours Worked
Rounding off hours is permissible in the fair labor standards as it enables total compensation for hours worked. The start and end times can be rounded to the nearest five minutes to form quantifiable hours. TheFLSA Advisory offers more information on this.