Most employers expect their employees to be ready to begin work at an appointed time. However, USDA inspectors are given about 15 minutes each time they put on their protective gear and walk to or from their work stations. That happens twice each 8-hour shift. The dilemma of how to compensate inspectors for this time is about to be resolved.
The agency says the average cost will exceed $43,000 dollars a year per poultry and livestock slaughtering company running an 8-hour line shift. USDA estimates the annual cost of inspector overtime to the entire industry at around $12 million. The Supreme Court ruled, and USDA agreed in their union negotiations that donning and doffing is part of the inspected activity and so that time would have to fall into the 8-hour tour of duty.
One option USDA is taking into consideration is the location where inspectors don and doff their gear. If a processor moves a dedicated donning and doffing area to right next to the line, the costs can be minimized that way.