Another notable opinion from the U.S. Department of Labor letters issued on March 14 is that workers are not required to be paid for community service they perform through an employer program unless they are forced into volunteering. An employer submitted a question to the DOL asking if it had to compensate employees who are allowed to pick their own or employer sponsored volunteer activities. The employer pays them for activities that occur during the work day or on the employer’s premises, but much of the volunteer time falls outside of working hours.
The employer offers a bonus to employee groups that spend the most time volunteering each year. The DOL said that so long as the employer does not unduly pressure its employees to participate, it does not have to pay employees for volunteer hours. Since they suffer no adverse consequences for sitting out, they need not be paid. The DOL went further and said employers could even use an app to track workers' volunteer hours, so long as it does not direct or control the employees’ activities.