Overtime pay

The FLSA requires that any employee who is not exempt from the Act (nonexempt or "classified" staff) must be paid at 1.5 times their regular rate of pay for hours worked that exceed 40 in a work week.


Work week

The work week at SPU is defined as 12:01 AM Saturday, through 12:00 AM (midnight) Friday.


Work "suffered or permitted"

The FLSA clearly states that it is the employer’s responsibility to enforce the overtime rules, not the employees’. Overtime should be given according to the FLSA if the employer "knows or has reason to know" that the employee is working. The location of the work (e.g., at the job site or away from it) is immaterial if the employer knows or has reason to know of the employee’s work.


Supervisor’s Note: To prevent incurring wage liability for work time not requested or desired, supervisors should instruct nonexempt employees about the extent to which the supervisor expects them to devote time to work. Good two-way communication about this is very important.


Paid time off in lieu of cash payments for overtime

People are placing an increasingly high value on time spent away from work. Many times employees would choose to take paid time off from work instead receiving overtime pay. Supervisor’s can work with employees to support this preference where possible, but it must be done within legal boundaries.

There is one exception to paying overtime as described above (see overtime pay). Under this exception, an employee may choose to take paid time off in lieu of receiving the overtime pay provided that the following three conditions are met:

Supervisor’s Note: The paid time off option may be implemented at the supervisor’s discretion as long as the above three requirements are met. It is very important that the employee voluntarily agrees to the paid time off option without feeling any pressure or obligation to do so. However, supervisor’s are under no obligation to approve this paid time off option, but may wish to for a number of reasons (budget concerns, cyclical nature of their department’s work-load, the employee’s request for flexibility, etc.). If this option is exercised, time sheets must be marked clearly and appropriately to avoid over payment and other related problems. Please see Appendix A of this section for a sample time sheet or call Human Resources (ext. 2809) or Payroll (ext. 2529) for instructions on how to mark this option on the timesheet. This rule does not apply to exempt staff as they do not work on an hourly basis.


Meal periods/rest periods

Nonexempt employees (regardless of status as full-time, part-time, or temporary employees), working at least five consecutive hours must be allowed a meal period of at least 30 minutes, which begins not less than 2 hours nor more than 5 hours after the beginning of the shift. Neither state nor federal law requires that employers pay for these meal periods if the employee is completely relieved from duty during the break.

A nonexempt employee must be allowed a rest period of not less than 10 minutes paid time for each 3 hours of working time. No nonexempt staff member can be required to work more than 3 hours without a rest period. Rest periods should be scheduled as near as possible to the midpoint of the work period. Where the nature of the work allows staff members to take intermittent rest periods that are equivalent to 10 minutes each 4 hours, a scheduled rest period is not required.


Supervisor’s Note: Many conscientious nonexempt staff members are tempted to work through lunch and not take breaks due to the size of their work load. Remember that work "suffered or permitted" is the responsibility of the supervisor, not the employee.

Seattle Pacific University’s standard work day starts at 8:00 AM and ends at 5:00 PM. If an employee does not take a full hour for lunch, and does not feel free to take their breaks, they are technically working more than an eight hour day for which they are paid. Please be sure your nonexempt employees are following the above guidelines and are paid for the actual hours they work. Meal periods are required. Staff members may or may not choose to take rest periods, but they must be allowed and should be encouraged to take them.


Waiting time

Determining whether waiting time constitutes "hours worked" requires case-by-case analysis. They key question is whether the employee is able to effectively use the time for his or her own purposes. Relevant factors to this question include:

the employment agreement and the parties’ conduct under it;

the relationship between the waiting time and the job in question;

whether the employee is completely relieved of all duties until a specified time in the future;

whether the employee may leave the work site during the waiting time;

the duration of the waiting time; and

the degree of predictability associated with the waiting time.


Supervisors Note: Periods during which an employee is completely relieved of duty and which are long enough to enable the employee to use the time effectively for the employee’s own purposes, are not hours worked.


Time on-call

On-call time is a special type of waiting time. As with waiting time, the key question is whether the employee is able to effectively use the time for personal purposes. An employee who is not required to remain on the employer’s premises, but is merely required to leave word about where he or she may be contacted, does not constitute working on-call. Relevant "illustrative" factors include:

the degree to which the employee’s movements are geographically restricted;

the frequency of call-ins;

how quickly employees are expected to respond to call-ins;

the employee’s ability to trade on-call responsibilities with others;

whether a pager causes restrictions on the employee’s use of the time; and

the employee’s actual activities during the time on-call.


Supervisor’s Note: The Office of Human Resources can assist you in determining whether waiting time or "on call" time constitutes "hours worked" that must be compensated.


Lectures, meetings and training programs

If the four following criteria are met, the FLSA does not require employers to count as "hours worked" time spent attending lectures, meetings, training programs, or similar functions:

Attendance is outside the employee’s regular working hours.

The employee does not perform any productive work while attending the program or function.

Attendance is in fact voluntary.

To meet this criterion, the employer cannot require the employee’s attendance; and

the employee must not be led to believe that nonattendance would adversely affect his or her employment situation.

The program or function is not directly related to the employee’s job.

Training is "directly related" to the employee’s job when it is designed to make the employee more effective at his or her present job.

Training is not "directly related" to the employee’s job when it prepares the employee for a different job, including a promotion, or teaches the employee a new or additional skill.

This criterion (relationship of training to the employee’s job) is immaterial if the employee unilaterally decides to attend training offered by entities independent of the University.


Travel time

Federal regulations address various situations in which time spent traveling is or is not considered "hours worked" for purposes of the FLSA. When travel time is integral to performing the employee’s job, the time must be treated as work time. When travel time is merely a normal incident of employment, it need not be treated as such. The situations addressed by the travel time regulations include:

travel between the employee’s home and workplace;

emergency call-outs;

travel between job sites; and

business trips.

Travel between Employee’s home and workplace: Ordinary home to work travel time need not be counted as "hours worked".

Emergency Call-Outs: When an emergency call makes it necessary for the employee to travel a substantial distance from home to a place other than the employee’s normal work site, the travel time is time worked.

Travel between job sites during the workday: This time must be counted as "hours worked".

Business Trips:

a.) One Day Business Trips:

The employer need not count as work time those components of the travel time that could be regarded as ordinary travel between home and work (e.g., traveling from home to the airport).

"Hours worked" includes travel time where the travel is performed for the employer’s benefit and at the employer’s special request to meet the needs of the particular and unusual assignment (e.g., driving to another city for a special one-day assignment).

b.) Overnight Business Trips:

The employer must count as "hours worked" the time the employee spends traveling during his or her regular hours of work (e.g., between 8:00 AM and 5:00 PM), regardless of whether the travel occurs on a normal workday or on an off day.

The federal enforcement policy is to ignore time the employee spends as a passenger outside his or her regular working hours.



Employees frequently voluntarily perform work that is obviously primarily for the benefit of the employer. Employees choose to work through their lunch hours, come into work early and stay late, and take work home. Frequently, employees do not record the time, and even resist employer requests that they do so.

Time devoted to civic or charitable work is "hours worked" and must be paid as such when the employer requests, directs, or controls this activity, or requires the employee to be on the premises.


Supervisor’s Note: Many employees at SPU feel a sense of "calling" to their jobs and will resist marking their time sheets for hours they work over forty, in the name of that "calling". You must be attentive to this tendency and insist that employees follow work rules marking their time sheets appropriately. An employee’s refusal to follow these rules may constitute insubordination, and should be dealt with accordingly.

SPU offers opportunities for employees to "volunteer". Volunteer time should not be counted as "hours worked" so long as the work is truly charitable, and civic (QUEST, phone-a-thon), and there is no perception that the employee’s decision not to "volunteer" would adversely affect his or her employment situation.


Combining nonexempt and exempt work

When nonexempt "hourly" employees are asked to do additional work for the same employer, if the combined total hours worked goes over forty (even if the additional work is exempt in nature) hours worked over forty must be compensated at time-and-a-half of the regular hourly wage rate.