Company required employees to volunteer, owes $59K in back wages Why charitable work turned into compensable time Some companies may encourage workers to volunteer their time to charitable causes. But when volunteering becomes mandatory, it can cause issues if workers aren’t paid. One employer wasn’t compliant with the law’s guidelines on volunteering, and it paid the price. Limestone County Sheriff’s Department, based in Alabama, asked workers to spend some of their off hours volunteering at a fundraising event. This would’ve been fine if the employer allowed workers to choose not to attend, but that didn’t happen. Instead, the sheriff’s department pressured employees into volunteering and punished those who refused. It also failed to pay workers for time they spent at the courthouse handling warrants outside of their regularly scheduled shifts. Because of these issues the Dept. of Labor (DOL) ordered the sheriff’s department to pay $49,968 in back wages to 126 employees. Rules for volunteering When it comes to civic and charitable work, the law is clear: If an employer requires workers to spend time volunteering it’s considered working time. The same goes for volunteering that occurs while employees are required to be on premise at work, or volunteer hours that are done under the employer’s direction or control. However, when workers are given the choice to volunteer outside of their normal working hours, the time isn’t compensable under the law. Cite: