For many people, waiting is a normal part of their job duties. Sometimes called waiting time, this time is often spent doing something unrelated to your work. Many people read, listen to music on their headphones, play games on their smartphones, or scroll through social media. Still, if your employer required you to show up, you might be eligible to be paid when you are on duty, but waiting for work.

If you have questions about whether your employer is breaking federal or state employment laws by not paying you for hours worked, Gibbons Law Group can help you understand the complex laws that apply to your situation. We can also hold your employer responsible for wage theft, and recover the money owed to you. Call us today at 704-612-0038 to make an appointment for a free case review.

When Must My North Carolina Employer Pay Me to Wait for Work?

Almost any time you are at work, your employer must pay you. Some jobs naturally require some downtime or waiting. If your job is to answer incoming calls, you likely have some time when the phone is not ringing. Firefighters and other first responders often have downtime (being “on-call“) between calls. Office workers who must wait for their computer systems to go back online are entitled to downtime pay.

In some cases, employers assign you other duties during this waiting period. A restaurant host might roll silverware or clean tables when there are no guests coming in the door.

Other employers, however, do not assign other tasks. These employees can use their downtime to pursue personal activities, whether that includes checking their personal email, playing a game, or reading a book. No matter what employees do with these short waiting periods, their employer must compensate them at their normal rate.

It is important to note that even if your employer calls you in but then decides they do not need you, they must pay you for the time you spent waiting on them to make that decision. This means if your employer asks you to report at 8 a.m. and then waits until 8:10 a.m. to send you home, he owes you compensation for the ten minutes you spent waiting. 

Does My North Carolina Employer Ever Have to Pay Me for Waiting Offsite?

There are some cases where your job may require you to wait offsite for an assignment or next job activity. A bike messenger who must wait for someone to prepare a package might need to wait nearby; if so, she deserves compensation for this time. No matter if the messenger decides to run next door for a quick cup of coffee or read a book in the lobby of the business while waiting, her employer needs to pay her for this time.

In general, your employer needs to pay you if the time you wait is short and unpredictable. You may be able to run quick errands nearby, get a snack, use the bathroom, or engage in some activities, but you cannot use the time effectively for personal reasons and you must remain engaged and ready for your next job duty. This is true no matter where you are, as long as you are waiting as a part of your job.

When Is Waiting Not Compensable Under North Carolina Wage and Labor Laws?

Occasionally, we see people who do have waiting time that does not qualify for compensation. However, this is rare. For you to truly be off-duty during your waiting time, you must not have any job-related duties during the period. You must know in advance that you can leave your job site and when you need to return, and the time period must be long enough to allow you to run errands, eat a meal, or engage in other personal activities.

The courts look at these claims on a case-by-case basis, but we can advise you about how the law may apply if your employer relieves you of duty during waiting or downtimes at work.

What Should I Do If I Believe My Employer Is Not Paying Me for Waiting Time?

We can help you determine if you are a victim of wage theft, and if your employer owes you back pay for hours spent waiting at work. We can explain the laws as they apply to your case, and use our experience and resources to understand how the judge may rule if we take your case to court.

When we pursue a case for back pay for a client, we handle all aspects of the process. If you still work for the employer in question, we also ensure you remain protected from any type of retaliation because of your claim. Let us provide you with the legal guidance and support you need while fighting for the pay you deserve. In some cases, we can also recover other compensation in addition to your missed wages.

Phil Gibbons, Charlotte, NC, Employee Rights Lawyer, Can Help You Recover Unpaid Waiting Time Wages.

Employment lawyer Phil Gibbons has the knowledge and skill you need to recover the wages your employer failed to pay you. Call our Charlotte, North Carolina office today at 704-612-0038 to schedule a complimentary consultation with attorney Phil Gibbons. We can help you understand your options, and get the money you need and deserve.