If you are a “nonexempt” employee, your employer has to pay you for all the time you have worked. But what counts as “work” can get tricky, and employers may try to weasel their way out of paying full hourly wages or overtime.
In Minnesota, the minimum wage is $7.25 per hour for small employers or $8 per hour for large ones. Some employers may be exempt from this requirement. And some employees, mostly those paid a salary or those in professional, executive, or high-level administrative positions, are exempt from overtime and minimum wage per hour requirements. Employers must pay their tipped employees the full minimum wage – they don’t get to subtract their worker’s tips from the $7.25 per hour requirement. (But tip your waiter anyway.)
Generally, your employer must pay you for all of the time you spend under your employer’s control and for your employer’s benefit. Here are some specific ways that rule plays out:
- Waiting for your employer: If you are waiting for a work assignment, but your employer requires you to be on their premises, you deserve wages. If you are “on call” pending your employer’s instructions, but you are not at their premises, whether you are entitled to hourly and overtime depends on the amount of control your employer exerts over you. For instance, if you cannot work another job while you wait, or if you need to stay in a certain area or avoid drugs and alcohol, your employer is exerting control over you and is more likely to owe you for your time.
- Meals and breaks: If your employer says you have to take lunch at your desk and work through your meal, you are still working, and you still need to get paid for that time. While short bathroom or coffee breaks still count towards your hourly pay, long breaks from work (usually over twenty minutes) are usually not compensable.
- Travel time: Your employer doesn’t have to compensate you or pay you for your morning and evening commutes. However, in some situations, an employer must pay you your wage for your travel time or compensate you for your expenses, such as when your job requires you to drive from location to location during your scheduled hours.
- Donning and doffing: This archaic phrase refers to putting on and taking off required clothing, such as uniforms or protective gear. In some jobs, putting on protective clothing takes quite a lot of time, and can add up to a substantial amount of money. If your clothing or gear is an integral part of your job, you may be entitled to pay for the time you spend changing at the beginning and end of the workday.
- Required training: Your employer generally must pay you for the time you spend at a mandatory training session. This goes for trainings you take from third party educators (such as attending a conference at a nearby university) as well as trainings you can take at your regular workplace.
Minnesota Wage and Hour Lawyers Protecting Employees’ Rights
If you suspect you have not been fairly and fully compensated for all of the hours you have worked for your employer, contact us immediately at (612) 349-2747 to discuss your rights and whether you have a viable claim for unpaid wages. Kuhlman Law is Minnesota Employment Law firm that is dedicated to fighting for our clients who have been mistreated by their employers and handles cases throughout Minnesota.
To learn more about your unpaid wage claim and schedule a free consultation with Minneapolis Employee Rights Lawyers – Kuhlman Law, call (612) 349-2747.