Q: When does paid time start in this situation?
During the COVID-19 pandemic, workers are required to pass through a medical checkpoint to answer a questionnaire and have their temperatures checked. Workers must then walk 10-30 minutes from the checkpoint to their "start" area and must be there at 7AM to be officially clocked in. I am under the impression that any work required task starts the clock and the clock ends when all work required activities end. Workers get a 30 minute unpaid lunch and are allowed to leave the building at exactly 330 or 530, resulting in pay for either 8 or 10 hours per shift. Many feel they are being cheated out of paid time as they have to arrive much earlier than the appointed start time to pass through the medical checkpoint to arrive "on time" to their work area.
A: Both of these issues are governed by the Fair Labor Standards Act. Unpaid breaks of 30 minutes or more are permissible under the FLSA, so you need not be paid during your lunch breaks. Whether you should be paid for the time you spend in the medical checkpoint and walking to your work station is a more complicated question. Your time spent performing these activities needs to be paid if the activities are "integral and indispensable" to your main work duties. There are a number of factors courts use to evaluate this question, including (1) whether your employer requires the activity, (2) whether the activity is necessary for you to perform your job, and (3) whether the activity primarily benefits you or the employer.
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