The answer to the question to whether the time spent changing into safety gear counts as work time really depends on whether you are represented by a union and, if so, what your collective bargaining agreement says.

The Supreme Court has said that time spent “changing clothes” is a proper subject of collective bargaining. This means the union and the employer may negotiate how much, if any, of this time will count as work time, for which employees must be paid. The court found, the union could bargain away employees’ rights to be paid for the time they spent putting in on and taking it off.

If your workplace isn’t unionized, the rules may be different. For non-union employees, time spent putting on safety gear is treated differently from time spent changing clothes for convenience. The Supreme Court has found that time spent putting on protective gear that is required to do the job is compensable time; that is, it counts as hours worked, for which you must be paid.

David Payab, Esq. from The Law Offices of Payab & Associates can be reached @ (818) 918-5522 or by visiting


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