Sleep Time (Sleep Time Pay)

Definition

The term sleep time refers to those hours an employee is entitled to compensation when sleeping.   Under federal law, if an employee is required to be on duty for fewer than 24 hours, and they are permitted to sleep when not busy, all of the time should be counted as hours worked.

Explanation

The federal laws governing the payment of workers for sleep time are fairly complex and depend on whether the employee is working less than 24 hours or is asked to be on duty for more than 24 hours.

  • Working Duty Less than 24 Hours:  an employee is considered working even if they are permitted to engage in personal activities, such as sleeping, when not busy.  This is true even if the employer does not provide sleeping facilities.  When an employee is considered working, they are entitled to compensation.
  • Working 24 Hours:  if an employee is required to be on duty for 24 hours or more, they can have an agreement with their employer to exclude a regular sleep period of not more than eight hours if sleeping facilities are provided by the employer and the employee's job permits them to get uninterrupted sleep.  Reductions from work hours are not allowed if less than five hours of sleep is taken by the employee.

If an employee's agreed-to regular sleep period is interrupted by a call to duty, the interruption is counted as work hours.  If these interruptions do not allow the employee to get a reasonable amount of sleep, the entire sleep period is counted as work hours.  This determination is made for each sleep period.

Related Terms

on-call time, decrease in pay, travel time, waiting time, pay in lieu of notice, piece rate pay system