Sleep Time On The Job

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What Sleep Time Must Be Paid? Chicago, Illinois Overtime Pay Law Attorneys

Some sleep time or sleep periods during a work shift is considered work time and must be paid by the employer.  The length of the shift often determines if the sleep time must be paid. If you are required to be on duty for fewer than 24 hours, all of the duty (work) time is probably hours worked and must be paid, even though you are permitted to sleep or engage in other personal activities when not busy. The fact that sleeping facilities are furnished does not make a difference when your time is given to the employer and you are required to be on duty.

For example:

  • An employee is employed in a group home or nursing home from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. He or she must help the clients to bed and help them get up in the morning. Between the hours of 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. the employee is allowed to study, watch television, sleep, etc. but must be available to handle emergencies or help the clients when they need to get up during the night. All of the time is hours worked.
  • A truck driver begins a trip in Atlanta, GA at 7 p.m. He or she transports goods to Nashville, TN (approximately 5 hours travel time). The driver arrives at the destination in Nashville, but due to an equipment malfunction, the customer is unable to accept delivery until three hours later. The truck driver chooses to sleep in the sleeping berth while the equipment is being repaired. After delivering the goods, he or she returns to Atlanta, GA, arriving at approximately 9 a.m. All of the time is hours worked (except bona fide meal periods) even though some of that time is spent in the sleeping berth.

When you are required to be on duty for 24 hours or more, you and the employer may agree to exclude bona fide meal periods and a bona fide regularly scheduled sleeping period of not more than 8 hours from hours worked.

Special Sleep Rules for Firefighters and Fire Protection Employees.

There are additional special sleep time rules that apply to public sector employees who are employed in fire protection and law enforcement activities.

Section 7(k) of the FLSA provides a partial overtime exception for fire protection and law enforcement employees who are employed by public agencies on a work period basis. If your employment is subject to section 7(k) of the FLSA, your employer may not deduct sleep time from your hours of work for a tour of duty that is exactly 24 hours. This is a departure from the rule for other employees who work a 24-hour shift.

Employees Residing On The Employer’s Premises On A Permanent Basis, For Extended Periods Of Time, Or Working At Home.

Some employees work at home or live on their employer’s premises on a permanent basis or for extended periods of time. Examples include an apartment complex maintenance person who lives in the apartment complex , a house parent in a group home or a college student employed as a “resident assistant” who lives in the dormitory. If this describes your employment situation, all of the time spent at home or at your employer’s premises is not hours worked. Ordinarily, you have time to engage in normal private activities such as sleeping, eating, entertaining, and other periods of complete freedom from all duties when you are able to leave the premises and use the time as you choose.

Reasonable Agreement.

It is difficult to determine the exact hours worked under these circumstances and any reasonable agreement between you and your employer which takes into consideration all of the applicable facts will be accepted. In this regard, you may wish to review waiting time, meal periods and sleep time. The agreement must indicate the number of hours you are to work and the hours you may use for personal activities.

The reasonable agreement must be an employer-employee agreement and not a unilateral decision by the employer. Such an agreement should normally be in writing in order to avoid any possible misunderstanding of the terms and conditions of your employment. It must account for the time spent working and the time when you may engage in normal private activities, with sufficient time for eating, sleeping, entertaining and other periods of complete freedom.

The reasonable agreement should consider all relevant factors including any restrictions or limitations on the use of your personal time and the expected interruptions to eating and sleeping periods. Whether you are really free to use personal time as you wish will depend on what actually happens, regardless of the provisions of the written agreement.

The following is an example of a reasonable agreement: a resident assistant in the university dormitory has an agreement with the university to be available for the dormitory residents 5 hours each day (from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.) Monday through Friday and to respond to any emergencies in the dormitory. The resident assistant may use the rest of his or her time for attending classes, studying, going to sporting events or concerts, etc., as he or she chooses. The university considers as hours worked the 5 hours per day (Monday through Friday) that the resident assistant is available to residents and any time spent responding to emergencies in the dormitory.

An exact record of hours worked is not required if you are living on your employer’s premises or working at home. Your employer may keep a time record showing the schedule adopted in the agreement and indicate that your work time generally was the same as the agreement or schedule.

If you and your employer find that there is a great difference between the hours you agreed to work and the hours needed to do the job, a new agreement must be reached which reflects the actual hours you are required to work. All of the time you spend working is hours worked.

Full Time Or Part Time Relief Employees Of Community Living Centers And Other Similar Facilities.

Some employees, particularly those employed in community living centers, group homes, and halfway houses for the physically or developmentally disabled, reside on their employer’s premises on less than a permanent basis. For the following sleep time policies to apply, the community living center or other similar facility must have one or more full-time employees who either reside on the premises permanently or for extended periods of time.

If you are a full-time employee who resides on your employer’s premises for an extended period of time, your employer may deduct up to 8 hours of sleep time per 24-hour period under the following conditions:

  1. You and your employer have an agreement, prior to the performance of the work that permits the deduction from hours worked of up to 8 hours of sleep time, bona fide meal periods, and/or scheduled free time when you are completely relieved from duty.
  2. You reside on your employer’s premises for an extended period of time, which is defined as:
    • residing on the premises at least 120 hours per week, or
    • 5 consecutive days or nights.
  3. You sleep on your employer’s premises for all sleep periods between the beginning and end of the 120 hour period or during the 5 consecutive days or nights.
  4. You must be compensated for at least 8 hours in each of the 5 consecutive 24-hour periods.
  5. You are provided with private quarters in a homelike environment.
    • Private quarters means living quarters that are furnished, separate from the clients and from other staff members and have at a minimum the same furnishings available to clients (e.g., bed, table, lamp, chair, dresser, closet, etc.) in which the employee is able to leave his or her belongings during on- and off-duty periods.
    • Homelike environment means facilities including private quarters and including on the same premises facilities for cooking and eating; for bathing in private; and for recreation. The amenities and quarters must be suitable for long-term residence by individuals rather than those found in institutional facilities such as dormitories.

If you are a part-time relief employee, you may also have a maximum of 8 hours of sleep time deducted from each 24-hour period under the following conditions:

  1. You and your employer have an agreement, prior to the performance of the work that permits the deduction from hours worked of up to 8 hours of sleep time, bona fide meal periods, and/or scheduled free time when you are completely relieved from duty.
  2. You, as the relief employee, are substituting for a full-time employee. In other words, you work in the place of a full-time employee to provide that full-time employee with a respite from his or her duty.
  3. You reside on your employer’s premises for 1 – 3 nights.
  4. You must sleep on your employer’s premises during each night of the relief period.
  5. You and the full-time employee you are relieving may not be on duty at the same time for more than 1 hour per day.
  6. You must be compensated for at least 8 hours in each 24-hour period on duty.
  7. You must be furnished with private quarters in a homelike environment (as defined above).

To deduct sleep time from either the full-time or part-time employee, the employee must be able to get at least 5 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night and must be paid for all interruptions to his or her sleep.
Contact a lawyer at the Chicago office of Werman Salas P.C.

Questions? Contact an overtime pay lawyer at Werman Salas P.C.