Portal-to-Portal Act

An amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act ( www.practicallaw.com/5-501-9884) (FLSA) clarifying that certain activities are generally not compensable working time ( www.practicallaw.com/3-517-3942) under the FLSA.

In particular, the Portal-to-Portal Act provides that employers are not required to pay for the time employees spend on activities occurring before or after ("preliminary or postliminary") they perform the principal activities for which they are employed. For example, compensable working time generally does not include time spent:

  • Traveling to or from work.

  • Engaged in incidental activities before or after work.

The US Supreme Court has interpreted the Act as requiring compensation for time spent on activities which are "integral and indispensable" to an employee's principal activities. For example, washing up before or after work is generally not compensable working time. However, if the job involves particularly caustic or toxic materials, washing up may be integral and indispensable because it involves worker safety and is therefore compensable.

The Portal-to-Portal Act also amended the FLSA by establishing:

  • A two-year statute of limitations for violations of the FLSA and a three-year limitations period for willful violations.

  • A good faith defense.

For more information, see Practice Note, Compensable Time ( www.practicallaw.com/9-508-0191) .

State and local wage and hour laws may impose additional or different requirements on the compensability of time spent performing certain activities. For more information, see Wage and Hour Laws: State Q&A Tool ( www.practicallaw.com/3-505-9593) .

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