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Do I Need to Pay Employees Before Their Normal Start Time?

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Question: We allow our technicians to take vehicles home. Twice a week, the service manager reviews all the techs’ paperwork and resupplies the vehicles used by technicians living and working in a specific geographic area. This takes about 30 minutes before the normal start time and we do not pay for this time. Instead, we begin paying the technicians when they depart for their first job. Is this practice legal? If not, should I drive them to the office to handle their paperwork or park the vehicles at our fenced yard?

Answer: As a general rule, employees should be paid for all time in which they engaged in something for the benefit of the employer. Assuming that when the service manager gathers their paperwork, he interacts with them to ask questions, etc., that time is working time and therefore compensable. Similarly, if when the service manager resupplies the vehicles, he has to have them account for equipment, explain requisitions, etc., then that too is work time and should be paid. If, on the other hand, the techs are not needed for some or all of these tasks, but they must drive the vehicles to a particular place for resupply and gathering of paperwork, they do not need to be paid until they go to work, meaning depart for a job or assist the service manager as described.

This response is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion, nor is this column a substitute for formal legal assistance. For help with particular legal needs, members are invited to consult with ACCA’s LegalTools Counsel, Brooke Duncan III of Adams and Reese LLP. Mr. Duncan can be reached at 504-585-0220 or by email at

Brooke Duncan

Posted In: ACCA Now, Legal, Management

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