If your employer requires you come in early to perform certain duties before clocking in or stay after clocking out, your employer may have to pay you for preliminary and postliminary activities in North Carolina. North Carolina law and federal statutes require employers to pay workers for all hours they work. However, there is some argument about the exact definition of “work.” North Carolina courts handle questions about preliminary and postliminary activities on a case-by-case basis.
Our team can evaluate your case and help you understand how the laws apply to your individual situation. If your employer owes you for required off-the-clock activities, we can guide you through the process to recover the compensation you earned. Call Phil Gibbons at Gibbons Leis, PLLC today at 704-612-0038 to schedule your complimentary consultation.
What Are Preliminary and Postliminary Activities?
In general, preliminary and postliminary activities are activities your employer asks you to do before you begin or after you finish your shift. In some cases, they may be optional and offer a greater benefit to you than your employer. In others, they are clearly for the benefit of the employer, and necessary to fulfill the rest of your job duties.
If you work at a gym and your employer offers to allow you to arrive early or stay late to lift weights, this is not part of your job and will not qualify for compensation. However, if the same employer requires you to arrive early to re-rack weights before your shift, this would likely qualify as hours worked.
Another example might include a hospital that offers free, optional seminars for nurses before or after work. If a nurse opts to attend, this is her choice and not required as part of her job. Her employer is under no obligation to pay her. But if the employer has required staff meetings before work once a week, her employer will likely need to pay her for that time.
When Does My Employer Have to Pay Me for Preliminary or Postliminary Activities?
Your employer must pay you for your preliminary or postliminary activities when:
- The activities are critical to your primary job;
- The activities primarily benefit the employer; and/or
- Your employer requires you to report early or stay late to complete them.
How Can I Apply This to My Job In North Carolina?
For the most part, you can determine if your preliminary or postliminary activity qualifies for payment by considering its role in your primary job. A construction worker cannot begin working until he dons his protective gear and lifts his tools on to the scaffolding at the jobsite. These actions play a key role in his ability to do his job.
Other examples include workers required to report early to catch up on the day’s events or stay late to count the cash drawer from their shift. If the activity is not required or a vital part of your primary job, it may not qualify as hours worked. However, in both of these examples, the workers could not perform their primary job without also engaging in those preliminary and postliminary activities. We can help you understand this distinction.
Also key in these cases is whether or not the employer requires the employee to report early or stay late, compelling them to perform work off the clock. If your employer allows you ten minutes to perform preliminary activities after clocking in, you should not report early to take care of these items. Instead of reporting at 9:50, you could simply clock in at 10 and spend your first ten minutes taking care of any required preliminary activities.
What Should I Do If I Believe My Employer Is Not Paying Me Fairly?
If you believe your employer is engaging in wage theft by not properly compensating you for your preliminary and postliminary activities, you need the help of a knowledgeable and skilled North Carolina employment rights attorney. We can help you understand the statutes that apply to your situation, research similar cases, and help you take action to recover the wages stolen from you.
If your employer requires you to perform essential job duties off the clock, you are likely eligible for both back pay and compensation for this time going forward. We can ensure you recover any money due to you, and protect you from any type of retaliation from your employer.
Because we offer free consultations, you have nothing to lose. We will evaluate your situation and discuss your legal standing during this meeting. Even if we believe your employer owes you compensation for unpaid time worked, you are under no obligation to take action.
Phil Gibbons, Charlotte, NC, Employee Rights Lawyer, Can Help You Recover Owed Wages
Phil Gibbons at Gibbons Leis, PLLC can explain the complex laws that apply in these cases, and help you see your situation the way a judge would. We can determine if you qualify for pay for your preliminary or postliminary activities, and help you recover any compensation due to you.
If you believe your employer violated any state or federal wage laws, call us today at 704-612-0038. We represent only employees, and are not afraid to take on even the largest corporation to recover the pay you rightfully earned.