Pre- and Post-Shift Activities May Be Compensable Work


Such activities for prison guards, which included security screenings and shift transition briefings, were found to be integral and indispensable to their principal security activities, according to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, employees are entitled to be compensated for all hours worked. The Portal-to-Portal Act confirms, however, that employees need not be compensated for activities that are preliminary or postliminary to their principal activities. Activities that are compensable include any that are “integral and indispensable” to the principal activities. An activity meets this standard if it is one that the employee cannot ignore in order to perform the principal activities.

In Aguilar v. Management & Training Corp., the Tenth Circuit found that the pre-shift screenings to ensure that weapons and other contraband are not brought into the prison were integral and indispensable to the prison guards’ principal activities of providing prison security and searching for contraband. Because the guards’ work hours began with the screening, the activities that followed were also compensable: pre- and post-shift briefings between incoming and outgoing guards, collecting and returning keys and specialized equipment (like handcuffs, radio and pepper spray), and walking to and from their posts.

With regard to post-shift activities, the Tenth Circuit found that the last activity – the return of specialized equipment – was also integral and indispensable, in that the guards would be impaired in the performance of their security duties without such equipment. Moreover, this equipment was not generic in nature, but closely tied to the guards’ work. The other post-shift activities that occurred prior to that activity were therefore also compensable.