Friday, March 28, 2008

Employer must pay employee for time spent at the doctor

If an hourly employee is injured on the job, and the employer's workers' compensation carrier subsequently sends the employee to a doctor's appointment to re-evaluate the work-related injury, must the employer pay the employee for the time spent at the doctor? According to the 8th Circuit in Howser v. ABB, the answer is yes.

In the case, ABB offered Howser two choices for her doctor's appointment: it would compensate her for the time missed from work but deduct that time from her accrued paid leave benefits, or she could take an unpaid absence. Because she took the unpaid absence, ABB did not compensate her for the 3.8 hours she spent at the doctor's appointment. The Court held that because ABB's workers' comp administrator, its agent, directed her to attend the appointment, the 3.8 hours were "hours worked" under the FLSA for which she should have been paid:

Under the FLSA, an employer must pay an employee a minimum wage per hour worked.... Department of Labor regulations state that "time spent by an employee in waiting for and receiving medical attention on the premises or at the direction of the employer during the employee's normal working hours on days when he is working constitutes hours worked." 29 C.F.R. § 785.43.

This case is a good reminder that if you require a non-exempt employee to do something, you will probably have to pay for it.