When Work Counts as a “Principal Activity” Under The FLSA

Kayla Moreland , May 19, 2015

Last week, we discussed some general rules regarding when travel time is compensable under the FLSA.  One of those rules we want to emphasize is that travel time as part of an employees’ “principal activity” must be counted as hours worked.  The Supreme Court has reiterated that activities “integral and indispensable” to a “principal activity” is itself a “principal activity” under section 254(a) of the Portal-to-Portal Act.  IBP, Inc. v. Alvarez, 546 U.S. 21, 37 (2005).  Travel that does not fall under the “principal activity” category, for example, include a bridge worker’s boat ride to the job site, or a well drilling crews’ mandatory ride to the well site.  Epps v. Arise Scaffolding & Equip., Inc., No. 2:10CV189, 2011 WL 1566004, at *5 (E.D. Va. Feb. 17, 2011).

Here are three questions you can ask to determine whether an activity counts as compensable hours worked:

1. Is the activity required by your employer?

2. Is the activity necessary for you to perform your job duties?

3. Does the activity primarily benefit your employer?

The Sixth Circuit in Franklin v. Kellog Co. used this three part test to hold that donning and doffing uniforms were “integral and indispensable” to the employees’ principal activity.  The employees were required to wear the particular uniforms and equipment, which ultimately benefited the employer since the clothing ensured sanity working conditions for production.

Source: Matthew B. Tully, NOVA Legal Beat: Overtime for Driving Between Offices? ALR NOW, Oct. 22, 2014, http://www.arlnow.com/2014/10/22/nova-legal-beat-overtime-for-driving-between-offices/
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