Question: We are preparing for our company’s annual holiday party and have two questions about pay for nonexempt employees. First, our party is from 3 – 7 p.m.; however, several nonexempt employees typically leave work at 5 p.m. Do we have to pay these employees for attending the party from 5 – 7 p.m.? Second, if any of our nonexempt employees volunteer to stay after and clean up, do we have to compensate them for their time?

Answer: In answer to your first question, it depends. If the after-hours party is voluntary and there are no consequences for not attending, the employer is not required to compensate nonexempt employees under wage and hour regulations. However, if a party is held during any portion of the employees’ normally scheduled work hours and employees are permitted to attend during those hours, even if voluntarily, the employees should be compensated.