Should Workers Be Paid for Prep Time?

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Americans workers won a crucial battle Thursday as Tyson Foods (Stock Quote: TSN) settled a federal complaint and agreed to pay many of their employees for the time they spend preparing for work.

The Associated Press reports that Tyson will now compensate thousands of their workers for the time they spend “changing into work clothes, washing and sanitizing themselves, as well as time spent waiting between tasks.” This decision comes after nearly a decade of disagreement between Tyson and the U.S. Labor Department.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Tyson workers will now be able clock in an extra eight to 12 minutes daily. During the course of a year, that can add up to hundreds of dollars per employee. Plus, Tyson will pay $500,000 in backdated overtime wages to affected employees.

The decision is based on a Supreme Court ruling from 2005 that states that companies should compensate hourly employees for all tasks they perform on the job. But several big businesses like Tyson have tried to find a way out of this over the years. Now, advocates are hoping that this decision, combined with a similar settlement earlier this year with Pilgrim, another chicken processing company, will lead to improved worker compensation rights around the country.

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