Do Employers Have to Pay their Employees?
Q: Do Employers have to pay for all time worked?
A: Absolutely. The law has been clear for many years that if an employer engages an employee to work, they must pay for all time worked.
Q: Do employers have to give breaks and are they required to be paid?
A: In Arizona, surprisingly there is no law that requires employers to give their employees mandatory breaks. If an employer does give a short break (15 minutes or less), an employer must pay for it. If the employee takes an extended break (over 15 minutes) then the employee does not need to be paid for that time as long as they are off the clock.
Q: Do employers have to pay for lunches?
A: No. As long as the employee has time to do what they want, they do not have to be paid for it.
Q: Do employers have to pay for time getting to work?
A: No, the employer is not responsible for commute time, BUT if an employer sends their employee on an errand, the employer must pay for that time.
Q: What happens if they don't pay?
A: The consequences can be severe. In Arizona, we have a Treble Wage Statute which would require the employer to not just pay the amount they owe, but also the employer could owe three times the wages (treble damages) if the court found that the employer was acting in bad faith. Additionally, the employer could be responsible for court costs and attorney's fees. In some circumstances, the employer can't hide behind the corporation. The individual who did not pay the employee could be personally liable.
About the authors: Kraig J. Marton is an employment attorney at Jaburg & Wilk PC that heads the employment law department at the Phoenix law firm of Jaburg Wilk. He assists employers in compliance with Arizona labor laws.