Minnesota employers are required to pay employees for all hours worked. Hours worked include all time employees are required to be at the employer’s premise or otherwise required to perform job-related duties, including periods where the employees are required to wait for work to become available.
Employees are considered to be off-duty, and thus the time is not considered hours worked, when:
- they are completely relieved of their job duties,
- they are allowed to leave the employer’s premises for a set period of time, and
- the time period they are permitted to leave the employer’s premises is long enough that the employees may use it for their own purposes.
Minnesota minimum wage laws define a workweek as consisting of a fixed and regularly recurring period of 168 hours, which is seven (7) consecutive 24-hour periods. An employer may set when a workweek begins, but once it is set, it remains set. An employer may change an established workweek only if the change is intended to be permanent and used to evade any overtime requirements. If an employer does not designate a workweek, the workweek will be the calendar week.
Retail and service establishments may establish longer workweeks that are longer than typically permitted. To do so, the retail or service employee must:
- be paid more than 1½ times the standard minimum wage, and
- receive more than 50% of their wages in the form of commission on goods and services for a representative period which cannot be less than on month.
Minnesota law requires employers to count employee waiting time as hours worked for purposes of minimum wage and overtime requirements if the employees must remain on the employer’s premises until work is prepared or available. MN Admin. Rule 5200.0120(1).
Minnesota law requires employers to count on-call time as hours worked if employees are required to remain on the employer’s premises or so close to the employer’s premises that they are unable to use the time effectively for their own purposes. Employees are not considered to be working while on call if they are simply required to leave word as to where they can be reached after leaving the employer’s premises. MN Admin. Rule 5200.0120(2).
Minnesota law requires employers to count time spent by employees sleeping or engaging in other personal activities when they are to be on duty less than 24 hours and the employees are permitted to engage in such activities when not busy. MN Admin. Rule 5200.0121(1).
If an employee is required to be on duty at the employer’s workplace for 24 hours or longer, the employer and employee may agree prior to the employee performing any work that the employee will not be compensated for bona fide sleeping periods that are regularly scheduled and do not last more than eight (8) hours. For the agreement to be valid, the employer must provide adequate sleeping quarters and the employee must usually be able to enjoy an uninterrupted sleep period. If the sleep period is interrupted so the employee may perform work, the work time must be compensated.
If the interruptions occur too frequently or last too long so that the employee cannot get a minimum of five (5) hours of sleep, the entire sleep period must be paid. If the employer and employee do not have either an express or implied agreement, any sleeping time must be counted as hours worked. MN Admin. Rule 5200.0121(2).
When an employee resides on the employer’s premises, the employer and employee may reach an agreement, based on all pertinent facts, as to which hours will be compensated and which will not be. MN Admin. Rule 5200.0121(3).
Minnesota law does not specifically address when employee travel time must be counted as hours worked. The standards set forth by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act related to travel time may provide reasonable guidance.
Meeting, lecture, and training time
Minnesota law specifically requires employers to count employee training time as hours worked. MN Admin. Rule 5200.0120(1). Although not specifically addressed, based on Minnesota’s definition of hours worked, an employer is also likely required to count as hours worked any time an employee is obligated by the employer to attend a meeting or lecture. See MN Admin. Rule 5200.0120(1).
Show up or reporting time
Minnesota law does not require employers to pay employees for reporting or showing up to work if no work is performed. An employer is also not required to pay an employee a minimum number of hours if the employer dismisses the employee from work prior to completing their scheduled shift. Employers are only required to pay employees for hours actually worked.