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Walking AND performing principal activities - time compensable? Colorado

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  • Walking AND performing principal activities - time compensable? Colorado

    So here's the deal:
    I work for an amusement park. All employees are required to show up at the HR building a mile away from the park to clock in for their work day. However, the time printed on the time slip is the time listed on the schedule -- NOT the time you actually arrive and clock in at HR. You are expected to be at your work area by the time listed on the slip.
    After receiving the slip, we are required to pass through a security checkpoint and board a bus to get to the park. All of this is obviously performed in uniform. You may not change at the park, they will not let you clock in, through security, or on the bus without proper attire.

    Now, as ridiculous as it sounds to me, none of this is apparently considered time compensable. If I understand right, this is because they are not considered "principal" activities, i.e. the activities you were hired to perform.


    Once we get off the bus at the park, we have to walk to our respective areas. While we are doing so, we are expected to assist any guests who approach us, which IS a principal activity. Furthermore, cashiers are expected to pick up their cash bag before making their way to their assigned location, and I'm pretty **** sure handling company cash counts as a principal activity as well.
    The thing is, since we "clock in" at HR, the only record of when we actually started performing principal activities is the word of one's direct supervisor. And generally, that supervisor is not present while we're walking from one end of the park to the other.

    So, practically speaking, in order to pay us for all principal activities, they would either have to pay us from the time we clock in at HR, or have the bus driver keep a record of when employees enter the park. Of course, a major problem with that is that currently, an employee can clock in and travel to the park several hours before their scheduled shift, and spend the extra time relaxing at the team cafeteria. We are not required to help guests during such times, but that's only because we're behind the scenes. We are certainly not treated as guests ourselves during these times.

    In addition, the company chooses to recognize time worked in the case of walking to and from lunch, but not to and from our work area before and after the shift. But the terms are the same -- we were explicitly told that we may sometimes take a 45 minute lunch rather than the required 30. The extra 15 minutes are paid, BECAUSE they want us to help guests on our way. Should that same principle not apply to any other time we are walking through the park in uniform?

  • #2
    RE Walking AND Performing...

    This is an interesting situation on several levels. I am going to take a crack at it, knowing that my talented colleagues will chime in and help as well.

    First, as a pragmatic person, I have to wonder WHY any employer would have a time clock that does not clock in the actual time that the time card was physically placed in the punch machine. If it is only documenting the time scheduled to begin work, why not simply use the schedule to prepare payroll? Why not have the clock at the gate? Why not have HR at the gate? So many logistics, so few hours (and writing space)

    Secondly, the employer is requiring the punch in, requiring the uniform to be on in order to pass through security and the gate, and once in the gate, the employee is required to perform duties associated with being an employee. The fact that there is a bus and that the punch system is located at HR prior to boarding the bus to the gate makes me wonder if at one time, the employer had the employees punch in with current time and this was later changed, with or without knowledge of top management. There is plenty of case law which clarifies compensable and non-compensable work, In my opinion, given the information provided, I would argue that the compensable time definitely starts at the time the employee enters the gate and I would urge the employer to stipulate, by policy, a reasonable time for "walking" to their station so as to avoid the "Well I had to stop and get a snack and then I had to stop and flirt with the cashier at the XYZ Store,..." productivity killing behaviors that is bound to be displayed by some individuals.

    Lastly, I would urge the employer to implement an electronic employee management software that would allow employees to clock in and out via laptop/cell phone for times they are showing up early to the employee lounge in order to check email, check FB, watch tv, browse the net, or whatever they choose to do in there.

    I believe you have valid arguments and the employer would be wise to review the situation with their labor law counsel.

    Best wishes to you.