Do Hours Slept Equal Hours Worked?

Should nonexempt youth workers be paid for time spent sleeping?

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.

David Middlebrook is an attorney and he is an editorial advisor for Church Law & Tax. This article is adapted from “Payroll Audits: What Every Church Should Know” in the November/December 2015 issue of Church Law & Tax Report.

This content is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is sold with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional service. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought. "From a Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations." Due to the nature of the U.S. legal system, laws and regulations constantly change. The editors encourage readers to carefully search the site for all content related to the topic of interest and consult qualified local counsel to verify the status of specific statutes, laws, regulations, and precedential court holdings.

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