Often, churches host camps or summer activities that require nonexempt youth workers to be on call around the clock. But is time youth workers spend sleeping considered hours worked? It’s a big question, especially for churches sending groups to camps and retreats.
The Department of Labor (DOL) has provided specific guidelines regarding this issue. If an employee must work for 24 hours or more, has a regular sleep schedule of at least 5 (and not more than 8) hours of uninterrupted sleep per 24-hour period, and has access to sleeping accommodations, then the employee and employer can agree on unpaid sleeping times. However, if these requirements are not met, the employer must pay for hours slept. This requirement can be difficult for camp counselors who rarely, if ever, get “uninterrupted sleep” or a “regular” sleep schedule.
Editor’s note: Keep in mind that state labor laws may not only differ from DOL guidelines but may be more stringent. Prior to making any decisions based on federal requirements, check with your state’s labor office. If you remain unclear regarding your state’s labor laws, seek out legal counsel.