Sleep Time


On Duty for Fewer than 24 Hours

All of the time spent on duty, except bona fide meal periods, is probably hours worked.

If you are required to be on duty for fewer than 24 hours, all of the duty time is probably hours worked, even though you are permitted to sleep or engage in other personal activities when not busy. The fact that sleeping facilities are furnished does not make a difference when your time is given to the employer and you are required to be on duty.
For example:

  • A college student is employed to work in a nursing home from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. He or she must help the clients to bed and help them get up in the morning. Between the hours of 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. the employee is allowed to study, watch television, sleep, etc. but must be available to handle emergencies or help the clients when they need to get up during the night. All of the time is hours worked.
  • A truck driver begins a trip in Atlanta, GA at 7 p.m. He or she transports goods to Nashville, TN (approximately 5 hours travel time). The driver arrives at the destination in Nashville, but due to an equipment malfunction, the customer is unable to accept delivery until three hours later. The truck driver chooses to sleep in the sleeping berth while the equipment is being repaired. After delivering the goods, he or she returns to Atlanta, GA, arriving at approximately 9 a.m. All of the time is hours worked (except bona fide meal periods) even though some of that time is spent in the sleeping berth.

On Duty for 24 Hours or More
When you are required to be on duty for 24 hours or more, you and the employer may agree to exclude bona fide meal periods and a bona fide regularly scheduled sleeping period of not more than 8 hours from hours worked.

Agreement to Exclude Meal Periods
Your bona fide meal periods are probably not hours worked.

More information is needed to determine the status of sleep time. The FLSA not only requires an agreement between you and your employer regarding deducting sleep time and meal periods from hours worked; but also requires that adequate sleeping facilities be furnished to you by your employer.

If you are a truck driver, a team driver or helper, the berth in your truck is regarded as adequate sleeping facilities. However, this rule applies to sleeping berth time only when you are on trips away from home for a period of 24 hours or more.

Adequate Sleeping Facilities and Amount of SleepThe FLSA further requires that you are able to enjoy a regularly scheduled uninterrupted night's sleep, if 8 hours of sleep time is to be deducted.
When your sleep period is interrupted by a call to duty, the interruption must be counted as hours worked. If the interruptions are so frequent that you are not able to get a reasonable night's sleep, that entire sleep period must be counted as hours worked. This determination is made on the basis of what happens during each sleep period.

As an enforcement policy, the Wage and Hour Division considers that a reasonable night's sleep means you are able to get at least 5 hours of sleep during the scheduled sleep period. These five hours need not be continuous uninterrupted hours of sleep. If 5 hours of sleep is not possible, the Wage and Hour Division asserts that no sleep time can be deducted from the hours you are required to be on duty.

If you are able to get 5 or more hours of sleep, the sleep time is not considered hours worked. However, your employer can only deduct the actual number of hours spent sleeping, up to a maximum of 8 hours. For example, if you receive 6 hours of sleep, your employer can only deduct 6 hours for sleeping from the work period. This determination is made on the basis of what happens during each sleep period.

Your employer can deduct a maximum of 8 hours of sleeping time provided:

  • You are on duty for 24 hours or more;
  • You and your employer have an agreement to exclude from hours worked bona fide meal periods and a bona fide regularly scheduled sleeping period of not more than 8 hours;
  • You are provided with adequate sleeping facilities by your employer; and
  • You can usually get an uninterrupted night's sleep of 8 hours.

(This determination is made on the basis of what happens during each sleep period.)

Even though you may sleep more than 8 hours, a maximum of 8 hours can be deducted from the 24 hours you are required to be on duty. All interruptions of your sleep must be counted as hours worked.
If you and your employer do not have such an agreement all of the time (24 hours) is hours worked.


Yezbak Law Offices • Nashville, Tennessee 37215 • 615-250-2000 • 866-255-3866