According to the Fair Labor Standards Act, workers nationwide, including in West Virginia, are entitled to no less than the minimum wage for the first 40 hours worked in one week. Employers must pay any additional work hours at an overtime rate of no less than one and a half times the employee’s regular wage rate.
Understanding the terms in the Act
Many workers are unsure when they are entitled to overtime remuneration because they do not understand the various terms.
- Employ: The time an employer expects a worker to perform duties on- or off-site during a workweek.
- Workday: This typically means the hours between starting and ending the principal duties of the job.
- Voluntary extra hours: Agreeing to work additional hours is compensable, regardless of the reason.
The circumstances will determine whether the waiting time is work or not. A worker is engaged to wait under certain circumstances. Examples include a firefighter playing checkers while waiting for the alarm or a secretary paging through a magazine while waiting for a task, such as dictation. They must be paid for the waiting time. A person who waits to be engaged is not working and not due payment.
Any worker spending on-call time at the workplace is working and must be paid. However, on-call workers off-site who have permission to leave instructions where their employers can reach them are not working while on-call and therefore not due payment. If a worker on-call at home is not free to go anywhere or is constrained by the employer in any other way, he or she must receive compensation.
Other terms that may confuse include mealtime, travel time and hours spent sleeping, which can all vary, depending on circumstances.
The sensible steps for employees would be to discuss any unusual work hours with their employers to eliminate confusion and unreasonable expectations in both workers and employers. However, workers in West Virginia who believe they are not receiving fair compensation for regular or overtime hours worked have the resources to file claims against their employers.