What to do if my employer forces staff to clock out before they can access their work schedule so,we are required to spend our time off managing our schedules?

Tasks like submitting our availability, picking up shifts made available by management or other employees, putting in for time off, etc. etc. Is this legal? It’s work, and it’s all off the clock. Why can’t we do these tasks on the clock? It is incredibly unfair to workers on the clock when they can’t simply click an “accept” button to pick up a shift. It’s also unfair to be off the clock but forced to spend 24/7 checking the schedule constantly to monitor changes or attempt to get enough work hours to make rent.

Asked on July 19, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, Maine


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

It is not work, unfortunately, to be checking on your schedule, putting in for shifts, or putting in for time off. To over simplify drastically, "work" is doing something for the employer; "not work" is doing something for yourself, even if is something connected to the workplace. For example, managing your benefits (like health insurance), if you get them, is not work. Putting in for time off is clearly not work, since time off is for your benefit. If you have the freedom to pick shifts, as you evidently do, that is for your benefit, too, and is similar in many ways to putting in for time off--it is adjusting your schedule for your life and needs.

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