In the case of Secretary of United States Department of Labor vs. Bristol Excavating, Inc., the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, recently issued an important, precedential opinion on when payments by third-parties need to be included by employers in the calculation of their employees’ overtime pay rates.
Bristol Excavating, Inc. (Bristol) is a small excavation contractor. Bristol was a subcontract for Talisman Energy, Inc., a large producer of natural gas. Bristol provided Talisman with equipment, labor and services at Talisman’s drilling sites. Bristol’s employees often worked more than 40 hours per week, and Bristol paid them “overtime,” or one and a half times the regular hourly rate which Bristol normally paid them (“time and a half”) for all the hours they worked over 40 hours in one week.
Talisman offered workers at its sites – not just its own employees – separate bonuses rewarding them for safety, efficiency and productively measured by completion of work. Bristol’s employees asked Bristol if they could participate. Bristol agreed, and also agreed to do the administrative work. This administrative work included paying the bonuses through Bristol’s payroll, and taking out all applicable tax withholdings. Bristol did not include these bonuses in its calculation for overtime pay for its employees because it was not Bristol’s money with which the employees were being paid.