Every once in a while, a news item pops up about employees claiming to be short-changed
and/or uncompensated for work that
their employer deemed to be “not
work.” Sometimes this is in regards to
duties employees say should be worth
additional hazard pay, sometimes it’s a
matter of what can and can’t be put on
an expense report and sometimes the
issue is about seemingly
routine duties that for
one reason or another an
employer feels aren’t crucial to doing one’s job.
The latter is the issue
at hand in two recent
cases in my home state
of Wisconsin, both made
public in early March.
At the canning plant
for Hormel Foods in
Beloit, WI, on the state’s
southern border, the
Supreme Court ruled
4-2 that Hormel owes
hundreds of workers back wages for
time they spent putting on and taking
off required clothing and equipment.
Hormel’s attorney argued that the company didn’t have to pay workers for time
spent taking gear on and off because
it wasn’t crucial to workers’ activities,
claiming they could accomplish their
tasks without wearing it.
Court documents showed that
Hormel requires workers to wear
company-provided food safety apparel
which can’t be worn outside the plant.
Employees had to be dressed, checked
in and at their workstations on time,
with pay beginning at the start and
end of their shift, not at the time of
check in and check out.
Such cases amaze me that they still
happen, given how much OSHA and
other safety associations have cracked
down on factory practices.
In the food manufacturing industry,
the challenge of safety is twofold —
the safety of employees, and the food
itself. In such facilities, the issue of
clothing and wearable equipment is
obviously paramount given the strict
level of sanitation and cleanliness
involved. Sure, technically workers
can prepare canned food without such
gear, but at what cost? Workers forgo-
ing such gear is an injury lawsuit or
product recall waiting to happen.
The second case
is at Oshkosh Corp.
in Oshkosh, WI,
where current and
have sued subsidiary
— which makes
fire trucks — for an
sation system” that
shaved at least 10
minutes off of employ-
ees’ wages each day,
which employees say
the company enacted
to allow them to spend more time
with their families. The suit says the
time was impermissibly deducted and
should have been compensated as
Pierce announced in February that
it would change its break policy and
shorten shifts by at least 10 minutes.
This is a different animal than at
Hormel, as Pierce employees appar-
ently weren’t informed that by shorten-
ing the workday by 10 minutes, their
daily wages were adjusted accordingly.
Having each workday shortened by
10 minutes sounds nice, but if it also
meant 10 minutes less pay, would you
agree to it?
IMPO is always on the looking for
companies to visit and feature in our
IMPO Onsite. These articles tell the sto-
ries of manufacturing businesses, how
their facilities operate and their culture.
If you think your company is deserving
of such a feature, shoot me an email.
When Do Factory
Shifts Really End?
Mike Hockett, Editor
Madison, WI 53713
General Manager, Manufacturing Group
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