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On Duty Waiting Time

When you are already on duty, but waiting for work to do, for repairs to be made, etc. you are engaged to wait and the time is hours worked.

For example:

  • A receptionist who reads a book while waiting for customers or telephone calls.
  • A messenger who works a crossword puzzle while awaiting assignments.
  • A firefighter who plays checkers while waiting for alarms.
  • A factory worker who talks to fellow employees while waiting for machinery to be repaired.
  • A waitperson in a restaurant doing nothing while waiting for customers to arrive.

The rule is the same for employees who work away from their employer’s premises.

For example:

  • Time spent by a repair person who has to wait for his or her employer’s customer to get the premises ready is probably hours worked.
  • Time spent by a truck driver who has to wait at or near the job site for goods to be loaded or unloaded is hours worked.
  • Time spent by a bus driver who reaches his or her destination and while awaiting the return trip stays with the bus to guard the bus and any items left on the bus is hours worked.

In each of these situations, the employee is engaged to wait and the time is hours worked. Waiting is an essential part of the job.

The time is hours worked even though you are allowed to leave the premises or the job site during such periods of inactivity. The period during which the inactivity occurs is unpredictable and is usually of short duration. In either event, you are unable to use the time effectively for your own purposes. The time belongs to and is controlled by your employer.

For information about Off Duty Waiting Time or On Call Waiting Time, click on the underlined text.

For more information, please contact your local Wage and Hour District Office.