Should employees get compensation if they are asked to volunteer by their employer?

Photo credit yacobchuk/Getty Images
By KYW Newsradio 1060
By Amy E. Feldman, Judge Technology Solutions
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Is it really volunteering if you're being volun-told to do it?  

Massachusetts crowned its pageant-winning Honey Queen, whose love of beekeeping began when her mom forced her to "volunteer" to help with her bee hives. She learned to love beekeeping and will now spend her time promoting the use of local honey.  

It's one thing when your mom does it, but what if your boss strongly suggests you volunteer? Should time spent participating in an employer's optional volunteer community service program outside of working hours be considered "hours worked" under the Fair Labor Standards Act that would require an employer to compensate for the time? 

The Department of Labor recently issued an opinion saying an employer can notify employees of volunteer activities and even ask for assistance with them as long as they are off regular work hours and there are no ramifications if an employee chooses not to participate.  

If, however, your boss tells you that you are have to "volunteer" or if your company gets monetary or other benefit from your services, you're not volunteering - you're volun-told to do it, or, as the labor department calls it, working, for which you should be paid. 

Just be sweet as honey when you tell your boss you're busy.