When it comes to pay, most employers pay employees in one hour and half-hour increments. They do this to avoid any confusion in the payroll department. This means that employees may be paid for work put in between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm, regardless of what time they actually clocked in or clocked out. For instance, if an employee arrived at work at 8:50 am and left at 5:05 pm, he or she would not be paid for those additional 15 minutes. This is thanks to a phenomenon called time clock rounding and often results in illegal time shaving practices, entitling employees to collect unpaid wages for loss of valuable work time.
The Legal Basics of Time Clock Rounding
According to the United States Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division, time-clock rounding is legal if the employer rounds down for every one to seven minutes but rounds up for every eight to 14 minutes. If this is confusing to you, do not worry, you are not alone; know your rights and stop losing out on unpaid wages. For simplicity’s sake, however, consider the following:
- If an employee clocks in at 1:07 p.m., the employer must round his or her start time down to 1:00 pm. However, if that same employee clocks in at 1:08 p.m., the employer can round the start time up to 1:15 p.m.
- If an employee is scheduled to work from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. and he or she typically clocks in at 8:50 p.m. and clocks out at 5:05 p.m., his or her actual start and end times would be 8:45 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. If this employee works a 40-hour a week schedule, his or her employer would be liable for 1.25 hours of overtime each week, assuming the employee follows the same schedule every day.
If an employer only records pay for work performed in 15-minute increments, he or she may be in violation of the FLSA and owe an employee unpaid wages. According to the WHD, time must be clocked in seven-minute increments. Anything above that is a violation of employee’s right resulting in the employer owing an employee unpaid wages.
In addition to clock in and clock out times, employers must also consider meal breaks, travel time, on-call time and other time spent on work-related activities. While most employers are fairly diligent in ensuring that employees get breaks and are paid for on-call time, many fail to pay employees for travel time or for time worked during a break. For instance, if a nurse is constantly interrupted during his or her 30-minute break, he or she is entitled to pay for that 30 minutes. If a teacher conducts a parent meeting during his or her lunch hour, he or she is entitled to pay for that hour.
These latter factors are often overlooked by employers, but it could be an oversight that costs them dearly.
When to Call a Wage and Employment Lawyer
If your employer is in the habit of time clock rounding, you may be entitled to unpaid wages for hours of work for which you have not been paid. To know for sure, reach out to the Texas wage and overtime attorneys at Herrmann Law for a free case review and to determine what, if any, laws were violated. If laws were violated, we can fight to ensure that you receive the compensation and unpaid wages you rightfully earned.