Can you be forced to stay at work while clocked out for lunch?

Asked on July 25, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Washington


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

As a general matter, no--if an employee is "clocked out" and not being paid, he or she must be free to go where and do what he/she wants. If he or she is not--for example, he or she is restricted to the worksite--then it may well be the case that he or she would still be considered to be working and must be paid for the time. So while yes, the employer could require you to stay, it most likely cannot require you to stay without paying you; being required to stay is typically incompatible with being off the clock.


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