Yesterday, the Ohio Chamber of Commerce gave proponent testimony on Senate Bill 243 (SB 243) – legislation that would ease employers’ administrative burden for tracking an hourly employee’s working hours and provide clear guidance on their obligation to compensate an employee’s unsupervised time.
In front of the Senate Transportation, Commerce and Workforce Committee, we highlighted how the coronavirus pandemic has resulted in more and more hourly employees working from home, and the issues that arise from tracking and recording an hourly employee’s unsupervised work hours. In particular, SB 243 addresses when an hourly employee who outside of normal working hours, on their own initiative, and without informing their employer should be paid an overtime wage.
The legislation tackles this issue by codifying a longstanding U.S. Supreme Court doctrine known as the de minimis doctrine. Under this common law theory, insubstantial and insignificant periods of time beyond scheduled working hours need not be recorded or compensated in order to comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Placing the de minimis doctrine into Ohio’s wage and hour laws assures employers are not found liable for failing to pay an overtime wage when an hourly employee outside of normal work hours, on their own initiative and without informing their employer, spends a small amount of unsupervised time checking work materials like emails or voicemails.
The additional assurance created by SB 243 will enable employers to make better decisions about where they allow hourly employees to work and when employees have access to work materials on personal devices that can be accessed after work hours. Similarly, it may also encourage more employers to allow hourly employees more flexibility in how and when they accomplish their work.
As SB 243 continues to wind its way through the legislative process, the Ohio Chamber will continue to advocate for its enactment since the bill will clarify an employer’s obligation to properly compensate an hourly employee’s unsupervised time and, in turn, reduce the potential liability employers may have in the future.