United States: "Pre-Shift" Does Not Mean "Before-Shift": Are Your Pre-Shift Meetings Violating The FLSA?

The popular workplace practice of holding a "pre-shift" meeting to set the tone of the workday and communicate important announcements can be very beneficial and may even boost workplace morale. But don't be fooled by this common "pre-shift" misnomer. If your meetings are not accurately recorded as worktime when computing non-exempt employees' wages, you may be violating the law and exposing your company to liability.

"Pre-Shift" Meetings Could Run Afoul Of FLSA

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employees must be paid for every hour they are "suffered" or "permitted" to work. Activities that occur before the official time a shift begins are compensable if they include tasks the worker is employed to perform or are an "integral and indispensable part of" the job.

This can include rolling silverware, reviewing proper dealing procedures, retrieving a cash bank, collecting a supply cart, logging onto a cash register, or handing off a section to the employee scheduled for the following shift. Several court cases have found that time spent setting up a work station, attending a "roll-call" with management, reviewing policies, and receiving section assignments are all activities warranting compensation. 

While most companies are vigilant about avoiding off-the-clock work, there still exist those rogue managers who demand employees arrive early for their shifts, or whose personal philosophy can be best captured by the statement: "What's the big deal over just 10 or 15 minutes?" Those 10 or 15 minutes add up, especially when you have hundreds or thousands of workers arriving early for their shift. Even a few affected employees could lead to massive liability.

It is essential that your managers, supervisors, and department heads understand that just because a meeting is described as "pre-shift" does not mean the activity falls outside of what is considered compensable worktime. f management holds a meeting that concerns work, employees must be paid for this time. Just because employees all congregate around the time clock while waiting to clock in (especially if the employer restricts when clock-in is allowed) does not mean they are up for grabs for management to just "pull them into a quick meeting" without being paid.

Confusion Over De Minimis Rule

Companies sometimes believe pre-shift meetings are not compensable if they only take a few minutes. This may stem from a misreading of the de minimis rule, which is concerned with the practical administrative difficulty of recording small amounts of time for payroll purposes. Companies should not be misled, however; under the FLSA, there is no amount of time – no matter how small – that an employer may arbitrarily ignore when counting hours worked. 

Some courts have started to view the de minimis rule as outdated, an antiquated holdover from a time when timekeeping was manual and inexact. The U.S. Supreme Court even hinted that the de minimis exception will have no place as a defense in future FLSA cases. In the 2014 Sandifer v. U.S. Steel Corp. decision, the Court said the rule "did not fit comfortably" with the case before it, and opined there was no clear reason to disregard a small amount of time when calculating compensation.

In this day and age of the exact, "to-the-second" time clock, it is not surprising that courts are trending away from such an exception. You should ensure your managers do not assume 10 minutes, or even smaller amounts of time, will escape the attention of the courts or a government investigator, particularly if the time is devoted to an activity initiated by the company or appropriated for your benefit.

Employers using a timeclock system that automatically adjusts employees' actual clock-in times to the scheduled start of the shift should proceed with caution. For instance, if an employee clocks in at 8:55 a.m. but the system automatically modifies the clock-in time to 9:00 a.m. – the employee's scheduled start time – even when the employee actually started working at 8:55 a.m., you should be wary of wage and hour danger.

What would happen if the manager routinely holds a mandatory "pre-shift" meeting from 8:55 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. every day? The manager may believe nothing is wrong because the employee is technically "clocked in." However, this activity could expose the company to liability because the system causes five minutes of compensable time to be ignored. 

5 Best Practices

To avoid potential violations, you should consider implementing these five best practices:

  1. Instruct managers that employees are not to be required or permitted to perform work prior to clocking in; all worktime should be accurately recorded.
  2. Make sure the start of shift meetings are properly recorded and accounted for when calculating the employee's legally required wages. Consider keeping logs of the date, time, and length of each mandatory pre-shift meeting, and routinely reconcile these logs with employee time logs.
  3. Investigate all claims of "pre-shift" work. For example, if you hear employees talking about their pre-shift meeting, you should clarify whether the employee was compensated for that meeting or whether it was off-the-clock. Obviously, if it's the latter, step in and correct the situation.
  4. Add handbook policies stating the company will never permit any employee to work without being compensated, and any employee who feels they are being asked or allowed to work off-the-clock should immediately report the matter to human resources.
  5. Review your timeclock policies and practices and consider them in light of the current legal standards regarding pre-shift meetings. Adjust your policies and train your managers as necessary to comply with these lessons.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of www.mondaq.com

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.