How long can you wait at work before leaving?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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How long can you wait at work before leaving?

So a few times, both directed and not, I have waited past my scheduled time to clock in, these waits typically last about an hour and a half the longest being 2.5 hours. I wanted to know how long I

can wait before I am legally able to walk out and go back home.

Asked on October 21, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Texas


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

1) You, of course, can leave whenever you want: your are not a prisoner. The employer may terminate or fire you if you leave when the employer wants you to stay, but that is your choice to not endanger your job: you are allowed to leave and cannot be restrained.
2) If you are (as we presume) an hourly employee, you MUST be paid for all time the employer makes you stay or wait at work. Even if you have not "clocked in", if the employer asks or tells you to stay, that is work time and you must be paid for it. If the employer tells you that you can or should go, then if you voluntarily stay there, waiting to see if anything changes or there is work, that voluntary waiting time is not itself work. But if you are directed to wait and do, that is work time and you have to be paid for it.
3) If your employer is making you stay at work without paying you, you could contact the state or federal department of labor to file a wage and hour complaint; you may well be entitled to back pay.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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