Question: Will the employer have to pay overtime to a nonexempt employee for time spent at a holiday party even if the party is voluntary?
Answer: In the event of an after-hours voluntary party, where there are no consequences for not attending, there is no requirement to compensate a nonexempt employee under wage and hour regulations. However, in the event that a party is held during any portion of an employee’s normally scheduled work hours and the employee is permitted to attend during those hours, even if voluntarily, the nonexempt employee is to be compensated. Therefore if the employee’s work day ends at 5 p.m., and the party goes from 3 – 7 p.m. the nonexempt employee would be paid for two hours (3 p.m. – 5 p.m.). If the party was mandatory or would have any consequences for those not in attendance, the nonexempt employee would be paid for the entirety of the party. If the nonexempt employee provided any work effort towards the set-up, during, or post event clean up, the employee would need to be compensated for all time worked at regular wages, including any eligible overtime.
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