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Regarding clock-ins/clock-outs Connecticut

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  • Regarding clock-ins/clock-outs Connecticut

    I work for a new transportation company which is a 3rd party provider for the CT Department of Children and Families.

    I have a relatively set schedule but there are often gaps in between clients. For example, I transport several children in the morning to their respective schools and my final drop is at about 8:30a. I arrive back at the office about ten minutes later. From there, I have another client who is scheduled to be picked up at 9:30a.

    My employer tells me that I cannot get paid for the time in between these runs because he is only able to bill DCF when there are clients in the vehicle. "You don't get paid unless I get paid," was the basic gist of what I was told.

    On one occasion, I drove a significant distance to pick up a client who canceled her ride once I arrived. I contacted my employer who said, "don't worry, I'm going to bill DCF, so you'll still get paid!" As if there was any question about it; certainly I should be paid for the time it took me to drive to and from the clients location. The client's decision to cancel shouldn't remove my employer's responsibility to pay me.

    At other times I will bring a client to an appointment and wait for the person. I am told that I can drive back to the office, time permitting, and transfer to my personal vehicle and go home until it's time to head back, or just wait at the location but calculate how long it'd take to return to the office and put that down as my time out, and use that same length of time to determine how long it'd take to get from the office to the pickup location and put that as my "in" time.

    Most days there is a large gap between my last drop off and my next pickup, which extends from about 8:30a until roughly 1:00p, and I figure it's ok to clock out for that time since I'm able to go home for a decent amount of time and do what I want or need (I live about ten minutes from the office). It's a significant amount of time and I wouldn't expect my employer to pay me for four, five or more hours when I'm home, or running personal errands which that amount of time allows me.

    But when there's only an hour or two between clients, it just doesn't make sense to drive back to the office, switch into my personal vehicle and then go home for only a half hour, etc., just to go back to the office, switch vehicles again and go to the next client.

    The exception to this is when I'm waiting in a location in which it would take longer to drive to the office and back than it would take to simply wait. It has been explained to me that the state can only be billed, and my employer can only be paid, and thus "I" can only be paid, for "wait time" if the length of time it takes me to drive back to the office and then back to the location exceeds the time it would take to simply wait at the location - which makes sense on its' face, but if I were in a situation where, say, I was 45 minutes away from the office, and the client was to be at the location for two hours, the state would (allegedly) not pay my employer for wait time because I could theoretically drive back to the office and have 30 minutes to spare.

    Of course, it would make no sense to drive the 45 minutes back, do nothing for a half hour (which is what that amount of time would permit me to do), and then drive another 45 minutes back to pick up the client when I could just "sign off" 45 minutes after my drop off time and "sign on" 45 minutes before and not drive for an hour and a half.

    So, in essence, I'm losing several hours pay per week even though I'm either A. Still in the vehicle, or B. Out of the vehicle but for such a small amount of time that it permits me zero opportunity to do anything personal. In the last example above, I'm waiting in the van for two hours, but am only paid for an hour and a half.

    My question: Can my employer require me to clock in and out several times a day for these reasons, even though it's essentially all company time? I "could" be home several times per day, for 20 minutes, a half hour at a time, here and there, but it makes no sense to do so because that time off is so insignificant that by the time I get home, I'm right back out the door, heading to the office again. It's potentially putting lots of wear and tear on my personal vehicle and affecting my fuel costs (I'm also saving my employer money by not doing all that extra driving), etc.

    I hope this makes sense. Thanks for reading and for any insight you might have.

    - Josh
    Last edited by ultranothing; 04-27-2015, 08:11 AM.

  • #2
    If the time in between appointments is your to do as you will, you need not be paid. If you choose to remain on site, that is fine, so long as your employer agrees, but you don't have to be paid to nap, read, run an errand, grab lunch, go shopping, or stare at the ceiling. Your employer correctly paid you for the cancelled run, so there is no problem there.
    I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by ElleMD View Post
      If the time in between appointments is your to do as you will, you need not be paid.
      Well, that was kind of my point - it's not. I mean, it IS, but it's also not. I'm not able to do as I will because the length of time between appointments is so short as to remove the option of performing any real personal errands. It technically IS my time, but it's also virtually useless. If I have a half hour in between jobs, and it takes me ten minutes to drive home and another ten minutes to drive back to the office, that's really only ten minutes of actual, usable, personal time. I realize that time spent commuting to and from work is non-compensable and so legally, on paper it IS a full half-hour, but logic and logistics dictate that I just remain behind the wheel until my next appointment.

      Are there no minimum standards as to what constitutes compensable or non-compensable time, as far as the length of that time is concerned? If it were ten, or fifteen minutes, would the law consider that to be personal time? What about five minutes? Are there any legal specifics regarding personal time, i.e., that the length of said time be significant enough to be useful? I only ask because I have a vague recollection of reading somewhere that, in order for time to be considered "personal," it needs to give the employee some freedoms to be able to use the time in a manner he sees fit. "Star[ing] at the ceiling" doesn't seem to fit in with what I'd consider "personal"; it's not something I choose to do. Rather, it is for the benefit of my employer.

      If you choose to remain on site, that is fine, so long as your employer agrees, but you don't have to be paid to nap, read, run an errand, grab lunch, go shopping, or stare at the ceiling.
      Certainly not. I would never suggest otherwise. If I had time to nap, read, run an errand, eat lunch, shop, etc., I wouldn't worry about being off the clock. If I only had time to stare at the ceiling, however, and I was doing so solely for the benefit of my employer? If I was allotted enough personal time to do anything besides stare blankly for a half hour before my duties resumed, I would consider that personal time.

      Something I'd read earlier today:

      "Wait time" must be paid if the waiting period is "primarily" for the benefit of the employer or business. In making this determination, the courts look to 1) agreement of the parties and 2) whether the employee is free to engage in personal activities. Under the FLSA an employee cannot agree to violate the Act, so the only real question is did the employer require your son to remain on the premises.
      Now the other thing is regarding #2. I am not free to engage in personal activities because that is against the policies of my employer. I cannot use the company vehicle for personal errands. I am free to drive back to the office and switch into my personal vehicle, but like I said, by the time I do that, I no longer have a real opportunity to use that time as I see fit.

      Your employer correctly paid you for the cancelled run, so there is no problem there.
      Yes, he did. I was only using that example to highlight the fact that my employer could have potentially thought he didn't have to pay me, since the state may not have paid him. By his logic, if he was unable to bill DCF, he may have claimed that I was not going to be paid.
      Last edited by ultranothing; 04-27-2015, 10:28 AM.

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      • #4
        Federal law only requires pay if your break in service is under 20 minutes. You don't have to have the ability to go home or do any activity you choose. So long as you are not performing work for the employer, you are sufficiently free.
        Waiting to be engaged" would be if you were stuck at your employer's facility, waiting for work to be assigned.
        I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by ElleMD View Post
          Federal law only requires pay if your break in service is under 20 minutes. You don't have to have the ability to go home or do any activity you choose. So long as you are not performing work for the employer, you are sufficiently free.
          Waiting to be engaged" would be if you were stuck at your employer's facility, waiting for work to be assigned.
          Gotcha. It makes perfect sense. Besides, I am still being paid for the time it would take to drive from and to the location so I'm not missing out on too many hours, all told.

          My question stemmed from the frustration of having several lapses between appointments per day. Sometimes three or more. It can become a real pain in the rear.

          Thanks again for the info. P.S., I am definitely being paid for wait times under 20 minutes.

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