Lead Buzz 10/05

Busted for off-the-clock work, the cost of employees who smoke, and more
Magazine Contributor
2 min read

This story appears in the October 2005 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

The Department of Labor is going after off-the-clock work. In one high-profile case last winter, Cingular Wireless was ordered to pay $5.1 million in and back wages to more than 25,000 call-center employees who worked past their scheduled shifts.

In the wireless workplace, the on-the-clock/off-the-clock line has blurred, but federal rules remain the same. Non-exempt employees in all companies must be paid for all the time they work, even if it happens before they sign in or after they sign out. "If they're working, the employer has to pay them," says Jonathan Segal, who works on wage and hour issues as an partner with the WolfBlock law firm in Philadelphia.

To avoid scrutiny, set rules early on. Have nonexempt employees record all time worked, and allot a small window--say, an hour a week--for tasks that might have to be done off the clock. If an employee documents more off-the-clock hours, "The employer should say, 'I'll pay you this time because you were working, but you went outside the parameters,'" Segal says. "You need to pay it; the question is what the message is after that." With liability in some cases reaching $50 million, employers should get the message across loud and clear.

Nearly 40%

of all workers in the U.S. are now connected to work via mobile phone.
Statistic Source: Yankee Group

$92 billion

The cost of lost productivity between 1997 and 2001 attributed to early deaths caused by smoking
Statistic Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

More from Entrepreneur

We created the SYOB course to help you get started on your entrepreneurial journey. You can now sign up for just $99, plus receive a 7-day free trial. Just use promo code SYOB99 to claim your offer.
Jumpstart Your Business. Entrepreneur Insider is your all-access pass to the skills, experts, and network you need to get your business off the ground—or take it to the next level.
Entrepreneur Store scours the web for the newest software, gadgets & web services. Explore our giveaways, bundles, "Pay What You Want" deals & more.

Latest on Entrepreneur