Must You Pay Your Employees for Civic and Charitable Work?

By Jon Hyman

Oct. 2, 2013

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, which means that businesses all over the country will be sponsoring events to combat this disease that has touched so many.

If your non-exempt employees are attending one of your charitable events, however, do you have to pay them for their time? It’s no surprise that the answer is, “It depends.”

The Fair Labor Standards Act’s regulations [pdf] differentiate between required time and volunteered time for time spent serving a public or charitable purpose.

  • If the employee’s time spent at the civil or charitable event is at the employer’s request, it is compensable hours worked and must be paid.
  • If the time spent is under the employer’s direction or control, it is compensable hours worked.
  • If the time spent is while the employee is required to be on the premises, it is compensable hours worked.
  • If, however, the employee voluntarily chooses to spend his or her time outside normal working hours at the event, then it is not compensable hours worked and can be unpaid.

And, keep in mind that if the compensable time is in excess of 40 hours in a workweek, it must be paid at time and a half.

Before you send that next email or memo requiring employees’ presence at a charitable event, don’t, unless you want to pay employees for their time. If you are otherwise soliciting attendees, make sure you make it clear that their attendance is 100 percent voluntary to avoid having to pay employees for their time.

Written by Jon Hyman, a partner in the Labor & Employment group of Kohrman Jackson & Krantz. For more information, contact Jon at (216) 736-7226 or You can also follow Jon on Twitter @jonhyman.

Jon Hyman is a partner in the Employment & Labor practice at Wickens Herzer Panza. Contact Hyman at

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